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3 Blockchain Startups Selected to Pitch at Africa Tech Summit in Kigali, Rwanda

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Africa Tech Summit
Images by www.africatechsummit.com/kigali/

This year’s edition of the Africa Tech Summit will be taking place in Kigali, Rwanda between February 13 to 15 under the theme “Where African Tech Connects.” Ten African technology startups have been selected to pitch live at the summit, three of these are blockchain startups.

The technology summit will bring together stakeholders, investors and corporates to discuss opportunities and challenges faced by startups within the tech ecosystem on the continent.

Selected Blockchain Startups

The three blockchain startups that have been selected to pitch are Leaf, RideSafe, and DeMars, according to event co-organiser Disrupt Africa.

Leaf

LeafRwanda-based Leaf is a fintech startup that is utilising the blockchain to create a virtual bank to provide financial services to emigrants, refugees and excluded persons. According to Leaf, the mobile application platform being developed will be used “to facilitate cash to virtual currency conversion through blockchain technology”. The app will be very crucial to refugees or displaced persons that need to cross the borders of multiple countries for safety reasons as it will allow them to store their money in stable investments.

In order to protect the refugees against the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies, the value of their money will not be stored in digital currencies. In addition, the platform will also be accessible through any mobile device without the need to have a smartphone. Users of the Leaf mobile app can also have their relatives contribute into their accounts after which they can make withdrawals when they get to safe zones into the new local currency or use their balance as security on a microloan.

RideSafe

RideSafeHailing from Kenya, RideSafe is a mobile-based insuretech application that runs on the Aeternity blockchain, which provides real-time health solutions to the public motorbike sector in case of an accident. The RideSafe app will provide a platform for riders to make weekly ($0.35) or monthly ($1.5) payments through their mobile wallets that qualify them for quick and immediate first aid from RideSafe’s partner facilities. At the moment, RideSafe has more than 15 partner facilities.

The app will also allow riders to interact with service providers, report accidents, locate nearby facilities and receive tokenised rewards for good behavior over time. By notifying a particular partner facility of an accident, the app will enable the service provider to prepare adequately for the incoming patient as well as bill the app on the amount charged to the casualty. The app will ensure that those injured can get timely first aid treatment while delivering the best service.

Although the app is currently targeting the motorbike riders in Kenya, the company has plans to expand to both East and Central Africa and eventually to the entire continent.

DeMars

DeMarsDeMars is a Mauritius-based startup that is working on the first mobile money platform and blockchain protocol for the emerging markets. The new technology is meant to deliver financial services to the 1.7 billion young adults of whom two-thirds have mobile phones but are unbanked. While cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are doing a fairly good job of allowing individuals to quickly transfer money anywhere in the world, they are difficult to use, buy, spend and are limited.

In addition, the applications and transactions tend to utilise a lot of mobile data, which becomes expensive adding more costs to the users. This is where DeMars comes in. The platform will seek to reduce the data being spent in the transfers being made without compromising on cryptographic security. This way, the platform aims to solve the scalability and speed issues that are common with most digital currencies.

According to DeMars roadmap, the Beta Mobile App will be available come June 2019 with a rollout in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. Expected rollouts for the rest of Africa and Europe are planned for June 2020.

Opportunity to Attract Investors

African Tech SummitBy having been selected to pitch at the Africa Startup Summit, Leaf, RideSafe, and DeMars will all have an opportunity to pitch and showcase their services to more than 400 investors accelerators, corporate partner and media.

Moreover, the fact that three out of ten startups that are pitching at one of Africa’s biggest technology conferences leveraging blockchain technology to deliver their solutions is a testament to the level of blockchain adoption that Africa is currently experiencing.

Blockchain Technology

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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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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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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