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IBM is Piloting Its New Blockchain Farming App in Kenya

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blockchain farming app

Technology giant IBM has partnered with Nigerian agri-tech startup Hello Tractor to launch a new blockchain farming app that is being piloted in Kenya.

From Farm to Fork

Tokens to African FarmersAccording to Solomon Assefa, the VP of emerging market solutions and director at IBM Research, their intention is to leverage the tool for digitisation, optimisation and streamlining agricultural business processes. They want to create efficiencies as well as new services from farm to fork not only in Africa but around the world.

IBM’s main aim for developing the application was to make the current time-consuming food supply chain processes more efficient.

Assefa says that in sub-Saharan Africa, over 60 percent of the total crops were managed manually and a mere 20 percent used tractors. This he said, was unsustainable due to the increased demand for food in a rapidly growing population. He added that about half the farmers would incur losses post-harvest every year because of poor planting practices.

Nairobi, Kenya is the base where IBM’s research and development department is working on the technology. IBM’s research scientists are reportedly working to integrate different technologies into the mobile app, such as the Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, the blockchain, IoT and IBM’s cloud.

What Does the App Do?

“[The platform] enables capturing, tracking, and instant sharing of data while creating end-to-end trust and transparency for all the parties involved across the agribusiness value chain,” said Assefa.

The project also hopes to include key players in the agricultural industries, including farmers, tractor fleet owners, financial institutions, and governing bodies, among others.

The pilot testing phase of the blockchain farming app will take place during the first half of 2019. After the initial pilot in Kenya, IBM expects to expand the offering to Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania. However, IBM did not specify any timeframes of when this will take place.

This is one of many blockchain projects IBM is involved in on the African continent as part of IBM’s focus on positioning itself as a global leader in blockchain solutions.

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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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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