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Blockchain Education: The Key to the Realisation of Mass Adoption

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Image Credit: Nairametrics

The raison d’etre of Bitcoin is to create a financial system that is governed by the people, backed by mathematics and code, exempts third parties from records & transactions, and increases in its intrinsic value as a result of deflationary attributes built into its algorithm.

Blockchain is the technology which powers Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies. Introducing Blockchain to various sectors of the global economy holds potentials of increasing efficiency and reducing expenditure costs. 

Undoubtedly, Bitcoin and Blockchain are technically complex concepts for an average person to understand in 5 minutes. It spans across the history of money, the flaws of the financial system, servers, data, internet networks, system architectures, banks and so much more. It encompasses decades of financial events and the evolution of human civilization with respect to technology. 

The outlined disadvantage has caused a slow adoption rate of Bitcoin, giving a window of opportunity for scammers to prey on the ignorance of the average person. The most recent scams involve luring people into brilliantly executed Ponzi schemes built on smart contracts, convincing them with technical words and the promise of irrational returns on their investment. Perfect examples of these scams are Million money, Forsage etc. 

There are more fake actors than good ones in the Blockchain industry, and they are ready to prey on the smallest glimpse of greed anyone shows, in order to rip such persons off their hard-earned money. This stuns the victims and greatly hinders them from experiencing the positive advantages of this innovative technology.

Will adoption ever scale in this manner?

Education and Ecosystem

There is no gainsaying the fact that it takes education to process information into knowledge. Blockchain and education should be the sides of a coin.  An ecosystem that supports and fosters the education of both the public as well as the government parastatals involved in building regulatory frameworks, is particularly germane to the growth of the Blockchain industry. The two major categories of people that need education are: The general public and the regulators (government). 

The most successful application of Blockchain is finance, the general public has known fiat money all their lives and is slowly adjusting to the centralized digital payment systems introduced into their ways of life. Finance and technology are subject matters which are often labelled as complex topics meant for only a select few. Nevertheless, there are certain keynotes that ought to be taken before embarking on any quest to educate the public about blockchain & cryptocurrency. 

Incentivizing people to learn about Blockchain and cryptocurrency by exposing them to the positive benefits (careers and opportunities) they stand to gain, is a viable method for encouraging blockchain awareness. There are numerous organizations and blockchain enthusiasts who are currently leveraging on this strategy, in order to incorporate Blockchain education. Africa Blockchain University, Althash and Paxful recently launched an initiative to provide a free Blockchain Course for 2500 Africans to learn more about Blockchain & cryptocurrency. This initiative is targeted at the economic empowerment of African youths. 

Similarly, Blockchain products need to reconsider their UI/UX. I’d comfortably bet on the fact that no one ever asks: ‘How do I use Facebook?’. This is because Facebook’s interface is so easy, that it comes naturally to the user— the same way a casual hangout spot would. The Blockchain hurdles currently faced by users can easily fade into the background with the provision of an easy-to-use interface. An example of such a blockchain product is Kurepay, a crypto-fiat payment wallet with an interface modelled after banking applications. It allows one to purchase airtime, data and other utilities using cryptocurrencies in a convenient way. 

Likewise, blockchain and cryptocurrency communities in each country could set up a committee of people who are vast in Intellectual Property, taxation and blockchain technology. This way, informed support can be given to policymakers & regulators. In turn, it would foster the creation of an extensive legal and regulatory framework that would largely develop the blockchain community. 

In conclusion, education is germane to the growth and adoption of Blockchain, especially in Africa. The University of Nicosia is one of the institutions that fosters Blockchain in Higher education with its MOOC and Master’s degree programs in Blockchain certification. Nevertheless, just as the adoption of the internet was quite slow during its first few years of launching but it now powers the lives and businesses of billions of people, there are indications that Blockchain would follow suit. More countries just need to get on the train— and fast. 

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Blockchain Technology

How blockchain can bridge the trust gap in governance

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Governments and authority figures have existed throughout history to serve many purposes amongst which trust is central. In matters of social and economic concern, some form of trust and/or distrust has enabled people in all cultures across all times to transact and interact, to exchange value and advance cultural agenda. This is so important that our very concept of money is built on trust or value induced by trust.

However, for most of history up till now, authorities have wielded central power and that has always been an avenue for corruption, a lack of transparency which leads to wastage of resources and spirals down to a lack of trust by a populace in the authority over them. Evidently, this is paradoxical, the governments are to be trusted by virtue of the authority given to them but it’s this centralization that ends up upending it down the line.

Evidently, many people in many countries do not trust governments to do things the way they say they’d do them. The question is, what can a hypothetical government do about massive distrust from citizenry?

Enter the blockchain. As with many things, technology often has something to offer. The blockchain which underlies cryptocurrencies like most famously, Bitcoin, has been imbued with a certain peculiar philosophy; one of democratization. Although this is more of a mantra within crypto circles, it’s not difficult to see why. First is the blockchain’s nature; distributed ledger built on cryptography with certain features which make it functionally immutable. It’s most famous and defining uses have been with crypto but it could be so much more. A record keeping system for example, one that would be immutable and most importantly, transparent, open to all to see.

So, in the administration of nation states, blockchain technology has the ability to fit into a lot of places. The main idea is to be able to carve out trust from distrust i.e. the apparent reality of being watched and having all records secure is an incentive for governments to act transparently. In some use cases, governments (as well as private businesses of course) could leverage smart contracts, a task built into a blockchain that’s executed when the conditions specified are met. These systems in governance would undoubtedly improve transparency, cut down on corruption as well as its accompanying wastes and overall be more efficient.

So, will we see a trend where governments would like to use blockchain technology? Overall, this is for now unlikely. World governments, it would seem, do not understand blockchains very well and hence are apprehensive about them even to the point of banning the cryptocurrencies built on them. At the end of the day, the use of blockchain at the governmental level of any nation depends on the nation’s own unique set of problems and issues. All in all, the next few years will be interesting no doubt in this regard.

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Africa Blockchain Institute

Africa Blockchain Institute Organized The First African Blockchain Summer Bootcamp For Teenagers In Ghana

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In the spirit of catching them young, the Africa Blockchain Institute organized the first-ever Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for teenagers (age range 13 to 19 years old). A successful Bootcamp, according to the participants’ testimonials and stakeholders, held at the OpenLabs, Ring Road, Accra Ghana, between Monday 2nd August, and Friday 6th August 2021. 

The teenagers applied from across Africa, and selected participants all converged at the OpenLabs, Ghana, for an intensive five days of learning, interacting, and implementing personal  Blockchain projects. The participants were divided into three significant tracks, thus; Blockchain Development, Blockchain for Creatives and Blockchain Entrepreneurship. 

Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI
Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by Africa Blockchain Institute

Across these three tracks, the teenagers learnt introductory units to Blockchain Development for societal challenges, Blockchain evangelism, Non-Fungible Tokens, and how Cryptocurrency works. Another highlight of the program was the excursion to the Accra Digital Centre, where the Boot Campers were introduced to the tech ecosystem and feel of the Ghana Tech Lab and Accra Innovation Hub spaces. A visit was also made to the Museum of Science and Technology, and the teenagers got to understand the history of technology in Ghana. 

Worthy of mention was the panel session aimed at motivating the students to pursue a career in technology. While making his comments during the panel session, the founder of BankLess Africa, Mr. Muntala Mohammed Shaibu, urged the teenagers to stop seeing themselves as too young to experiment with new technologies. In her remarks, Ms. Elohor Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder of CodeLn, urged the teenagers to continue to explore their interest in technology and blockchain early.

Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI
Panel Session, Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI

The Bootcamp ended with personal project presentations from the Blockchain Development and the Blockchain for Creatives & Entrepreneurship tracks. Projects such as NFT blogposts, Blockchain product reviews and Blockchain for transport and logistics were presented. The best presentation won the OpenLabs scholarship for Robotics Course. Thanks to Dr Sujith Jayaprakash, the Director of OpenLabs, Ghana, for the offer of scholarship. In his closing remark, the Executive Director of the Africa Blockchain Institute, Mr. Kayode Babarinde, urged the teenagers to continue using the  skills and knowledge gained during Bootcamp to explore Blockchain-related solutions further. We also appreciate Mr. Ganzaro Omar, Chairman, AfroBlocks, for his supports, and fostering collaborations with the Ghanian Blockchain community.

The Africa Blockchain Institute will continue to hold future Blockchain Summer Bootcamp series in various African cities to drive Blockchain knowledge into innovators early enough. 

Oluwaseun David ADEPOJU

Head of Research,

Africa Blockchain Institute. 

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Blockchain Technology

Africa Blockchain Hackathon 2021 Edition Begins Registration 

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Africa Blockchain Hackathon
Image Credit: Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI)

The 2021 edition of the Africa Blockchain Hackathon, a brainchild of the Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI) is ready for take-off. The initiative was created to allow young professionals, tech enthusiasts, students and policymakers amongst others to gain exposure to the opportunity of Blockchain/DLT Digital Innovations through mentorship, career and business opportunities. The Hackathon Program is a product of the partnership with FreeTON Africa (Sub Governance). The Hackathon provides a controlled, structural and sustainable mentorship model as well as a community to nurture and empower developers with potential towards building DLT and blockchain solutions. Registration for the Hackathon is already underway and the deadline is fixated on August 25, 2021. 

The contest is done in collaboration with FREE TON, an Open Source (OS)  community project created by developers of the Telegram Open Network (TON). TON OS  has more features than the Ethereum Virtual Machine and is designed as a decentralized operating system capable of handling decentralized applications. TON OS also has a stack of components that can be used by developers to create powerful applications. By making these components Open Source, anyone or everyone can view and copy fragments of the code.

The contest is open to all Africa Blockchain enthusiasts, newbies, artists, developers, policymakers and students. There is a prize of over 62,000 TONs up for grabs for the winner. The contest is open to the 54 countries in Africa for participants to build Blockchain Applications on Free TON. The aim is to add value to the FreeTON Network and the continent will equally benefit from the applications.  

According to John Kanyiri, FreeTON Africa Representative and the FreeTON Africa Team, “… we once again look forward to identifying projects culminating from this hackathon as being not only a showcase of what Africa can offer the global blockchain space but also solutions to the continent’s challenges. The creativity, ambition and sophistication of our localized developers are quite evident in the Hackathons and this time around we hope to see the same. Discovery of new talent and exposure of the same from very remote locations of Africa was witnessed in the last Hackathon and we look forward to the same this time too.”

The Hackathon is open to covering aspects of the blockchain that academia needs to know giving ample information about how the blockchain works and the current and future applications needed to change the world from the blockchain Point of View. The contest is open to both newbies and experienced developers as some of the best technical experts in the blockchain community will be there to aid you. In other words, the event is open to all who seek blockchain knowledge. 

The contest will be carried out in three sections: country competition, regional competition, and continental competition. The country and regional competitions will be held virtually however, winners of the regional competitions will get an all-expense-paid trip to South Africa for the Finals. The winners will attend the Grand Finale which will be hosted in South Africa. Participants are allowed to work on topics or applications that are peculiar to the needs of the African continent. However, some applications may include: 

  • National voting platforms
  • Fintech infrastructure/Digital Wallets (to help those who do not have access to banking)
  • Land ownership and registry
  • High tech job creation
  • Human rights protections

There are lots of prizes to be won including an all-expense paid trip to South Africa for the winners of the regionals. Other prizes includes:

1st Prize: 25,000 TONs

2nd Prize: 15,000 TONs

3rd Prize: 5,000 TONs

4th – 20th Prize: 1,000 TONs

Participants will have to follow a simple process leading up to winning amazing prizes. The first step is to submit applications for the hackathon, meet all the requirements and pitch ideas. Next, participants have to receive Acceptance Confirmation Notification/Onboarding, form a team and then join the opening session. The last part of the process involves building the application and collaborating with team members. 

Notable Dates 

Applications open July 2021.

Application Deadline: August 25th, 2021.

Hackathon Dates:  September 6th – 24th 2021. 

Begin your application here:  https://bit.ly/africablockhack 

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