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Rwandans Can Now Buy Airtime Using the SPENN App

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SPENN
Image by SPENN

Rwandans can now buy airtime directly from the SPENN app to top up their mobile phones.

The SPENN app is a blockchain-based mobile banking app, targeted at the unbanked population. The app allows users to open a new bank account, send and receive money within the network, and now also to top up their phones. All this is done without incurring any form of transactional fees.

Airtime Top-ups on the SPENN App 

SPENN APPOn the App, users can choose to buy airtime for themselves or for a third-party, both from a single touch of a button. The airtime features, which have just been introduced to the platform for Rwandan users, was made possible through Blockbonds’ partnership with I&M Bank (Rwanda) PLC.

The CEO of Blockbonds, Jens Glaso, commented:

“Blockbonds is always striving to serve its users’ wants and needs. He truly believes that by introducing airtime purchase in SPENN, Blockbonds will add value to both new and existing users, whom will benefit from their product even more.”

Blockbonds’ Vision and Agenda

The addition of an airtime feature to the Blockbonds’ SPENN App is another step the Norwegian fintech company is taking towards achieving its vision of creating a world where individuals can conduct financial transactions in a transparent, secure and trustless manner.

The company has chosen to initiate its operation in Asia and Africa. The attention and resources of Blockbonds are mostly focused on the highly unbanked population of these areas. With its blockchain-based and mobile-focused technical infrastructure, the company is looking to capitalise on the levels of acceptance that mobile payments have received in these markets.

Blockchain Technology

Vodafone Ghana Introduces Blockchain Programme for Technology Students

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Vodafone Ghana

Vodafone Ghana in collaboration with IBM, HackLab Foundation, and Stanbic Bank has introduced a blockchain technology programme for technology students at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). The aim of the programme is to promote digital innovation in Ghana.

The Hacklab Foundation Hackathon

The blockchain programme took place at Hacklab Foundation’s hackathon held on April 19, 2019, at KNUST. The programme was based on the theme: “Can blockchain technology transform the services sector?”

Hacklab Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Ghana that instills skills in the youth in preparation for the job market while connecting them to potential employers.

Vodafone GhanaAs GhanaWeb reported, the hackathon attracted 600 developers from more than 18 institutions across Ghana with the purpose of finding blockchain-based solutions for the country’s market and for the entire continent. Vodafone Ghana will help the developers that had the best solutions from the hackathon to execute their ideas.

“Our status as a leading telecom company in Ghana means we have the power to drive change in our society and this is one of the many avenues we are deploying to accelerate Ghana’s digital journey,” said Vodafone Ghana’s Enterprise Business Director Angela Mensah-Poku.

According to a statement from Vodafone Ghana, the blockchain technology programme will revolutionise how student developers think.

“Blockchain technology is a very fascinating concept which has captured the attention of the world and this hackathon is a demonstration of our commitment to lead a digital revolution in Ghana. We are always excited about the opportunity to unearth young talents in the digital technology sector,” Angela added.

Promoting the Digital Revolution in Ghana

Vodafone Ghana has been promoting the digital revolution in Ghana for more than three years, the telco company said in the statement. This has been done through the implementation of a digital strategy that is all-inclusive. Vodafone implements its strategy through annual hackathons, national digital coding, and the youth skills and jobs portal.

Vodafone Ghana was recognised as a digital leader at the Ghana Business Awards in 2018.

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Blockchain Technology

Mauritius-based Horizon Africa Launches Blockchain Education Platform for Africans

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Horizon Africa

Mauritius-based technology firm Horizon Africa has launched a new platform aimed at educating Africans about blockchain technology and encouraging startups, corporations and public sector institutions to utilise it.

An Ethereum-based Network for Africa

Horizon AfricaHorizon Africa is an Ethereum-based blockchain platform that offers blockchain solutions and facilitates DApp development. The Horizon Africa Blockchain Network (HABN) aims to apply blockchain to a number of industries including fintech, digital healthcare, education, governance and more.

According to the company’s co-founder, Suyash Sumaroo,

“Even though the public Ethereum (blockchain) has been available for years, the blockchain landscape in African countries has not developed much. There is a gap which is being filled by Horizon Africa. Its focus is not about creating a network or increasing the value of its token, but instead to allow people to learn about using the network. Building prototypes and ultimately real solutions is a large part of the mission,” he stated in an ITWeb Africa interview.

To make this dream a reality, Horizon Africa aims to involve African developers in the creation of blockchain solutions. The HABN network will provide a ‘test bed’ for local developers to design and deploy DApps that solve specific challenges in areas such as identity management, land registry, supply chains, gaming, and agriculture.

Sumaroo believes the uptake of blockchain-based products in Africa will increase within five years. He argues that Horizon Africa’s platform will play an important role in enabling African companies, startups and governments to learn about the technology, develop an implement blockchain systems.

Investing in Jobs of the Future

The platform launch comes after comments shared by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, at the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Governance Week, where he urged African governments to move away from “investing in the jobs of the past, but rather in the jobs of the future.”

He stated that Africa should position itself to maximise on the opportunities brought by digital technologies such as blockchain, AI, big data analytics, and 3D printing. Sumaroo mirrors the same belief and reiterates that blockchain technology will play a critical role in industries such as finance, agriculture and the public sector in the future of Africa.

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How to Bridge the Gap Between Blockchain Hype and Adoption in Kenya

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Blockchain Hype

The blockchain has garnered a lot of hype thanks to its potential to disrupt various industries from healthcare and banking to the supply chain and elections. However, there is still a huge gap between blockchain hype and actual implementation.

BitcoinAfrica.io spoke with Kingsley Ndiewo, CEO of Nairobi-based blockchain development and education startup Funtrench, to hear his views on how this gap can be bridged.

Awareness is Everything

The first step towards moving from a lot of talk about what the blockchain could do to adoption is awareness. According to Ndiewo, the Kenyan government and the private sector should spearhead the sensitisation of civil servants, policymakers, and the public.

Nairobi“When government functionaries are well-informed about the technology itself then they can better push for adoption within government bodies and recognise the benefits that accrue from widespread adoption. Institutions such as NITA and TVET can be equipped to train blockchain skills at a vocational level through private sector partnerships,” he said.

The National Industrial Training Authority (NITA) and the Technical and Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) programs focus on instilling hands-on skills to learners. Ndiewo believes that for blockchain technology adoption to actually happen, hands-on training is important as well.

Moreover, for real blockchain adoption to take place in Kenya, the private sector needs to develop market-ready blockchain solutions.

“Only by well-implemented and viable solutions being in use can adoption become possible. A sensitised government will provide opportunities for the private sector to implement blockchain-based solutions,” he added.

To this end, little is being done towards increasing awareness and executing blockchain-based solutions in Kenya.

For instance, the Kenyan government created a Blockchain and AI Taskforce in 2018 whose report is yet to be released publicly while only a handful of companies – such as Twiga Foods and the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) – have announced partnerships for blockchain-based solutions.

Leading by Example: Blockchain Solutions and Education

With less than a year in the blockchain space, Funtrench is eager to make a change with its three blockchain-based solutions, Ndiewo noted.

Funtrech

The first solution the technology company is working on is a portable DLT. This solution will offer a portable solar-powered blockchain network.

The second solution is SACCO Chain, a mobile app that seeks to solve the challenge of fractional ownership of machinery, vehicles, and other assets.

Ndiewo explained: “Fractional ownership is a key aspect of table-banking and SACCO operation in Africa. The solution will manage member elections on investment and administrative decisions and manage revenue distribution and virtual meetings.”

The third solution is Ganji, a cross-border payments and asset exchange platform. The solution solves the issue of cross-border trade in Africa and the high-cost of remittances.

Additionally, Funtrench has partnered with US-based certification company Blockchain Training Alliance (BTA) to offer blockchain education courses such as Blockchain Business Foundations, Blockchain Security Professional, Blockchain Solutions Architect, Blockchain Developer Hyperledger, and Blockchain Developer Ethereum.

The Nairobi-based startup is also working with organisations such as Oshwal College, AkiraChix, BlackRhinoVR, Kesholabs, Hyperledger Community, Kenya’s Blockchain & AI Taskforce, and Botlab to promote the blockchain and other emerging technologies in Kenya.

Most Kenyan Companies Will Adopt Blockchain in the Next Five Years

In the next five years, the Funtrench CEO envisions an environment where most businesses, including SMEs, will have deployed blockchain solutions in their operations. Moreover, he expects that blockchain solutions in Kenya will be prevalent in government agencies where they will be used to enhance transparency and secure data.

“We expect that blockchain solutions will be as commonplace as databases and their benefits will be more deeply understood by the general public. This will increase confidence in systems that employ blockchain technology and subsequently increase demand for blockchain-savvy professionals,” Ndiewo concluded.

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