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Chekkit: The Nigerian blockchain startup protecting Africa against counterfeit pharmaceuticals

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In Africa, an average person with a curious mind and sufficient cunning intellect in the pharmaceutical space can ingeniously mould a packet of flour or any suitable substance into a fake drug pill in such a manner that makes it virtually impossible to be flagged as fake by mere physical inspection. The World Health Organization(WHO) reports that 42 percent of all fake drugs reported to all WHO regions between 2013 and 2017, were from Africa

In 2018, two young Nigerians, Dare Odumade and Oluwatosin Adelowo, founded Chekkit Technologies to protect the world against the titanic influx of counterfeit medicines, particularly within Africa. The company was created with one major mission— verifying the safety of consumer goods and pharmaceuticals. The startup’s solution combines a blend of cutting-edge technologies like AI and blockchain, not only positioned to solve the challenge of counterfeit drugs and consumer goods, but to also address supply chain inefficiency. 

The blockchain-powered platform provides unique identity labels for products via QR codes or PINs. These unique identity labels can be verified by consumers either by scanning it with the Chekkit app or via USSD. Thus, empowering consumers to be informed about the safety and authenticity of a drug or product before consumption. With data being a critical piece of the platform’s authentication technology, the startup strengthens data integrity through the use of a decentralized network which makes the data tamper-proof. 

The startup’s offerings are uniquely packaged with enticing incentives that are strategically put in place to attract wide usage. In reward for the feedback, location at the time of purchase/verification of a product, and other useful information obtained from consumers, the consumers get loyalty points or instant airtime. This encourages more consumers to use the platform for verification and also provide the necessary information. It is a win for both parties. Through Chekkit’s Customer Intelligence Product, manufacturers can also get notified of possible counterfeit versions of their products to encourage prompt action against the spread of such products.

Although the startup was created with a mission of combating counterfeit pharmaceuticals, their technology offers beyond that. The process of verifying the authenticity of products helps in the acquisition of customer data. The data obtained from these customers is also harnessed to provide the producers of these products with intelligent insights on consumer behaviour. This equips the manufacturers with a better understanding of their customers and their preferences, thereby enabling them make better data-driven decisions. The companies are guaranteed that their data will not be manipulated because the technology is built on blockchain. This guarantees optimum security. Helping manufactures of genuine pharmaceutical products understand their customers better can also influence the decline of counterfeit drugs within the African continent asides increasing the revenue of these companies.

Within the span of two years, the startup has experienced an accelerated growth pace that has drawn it closer to its mission of eradicating the consumption of counterfeit products. In September, Chekkit announced that it had secured a partnership with Fantom and the Afghanistan Ministry of Health for a 3-month pilot project that will involve the use of Chekkit’s product authentication technology to track and verify 80,000 pharmaceutical products sold in the Afghan market. This is a major step in the tackling of Afghanistan’s counterfeit challenge, and Chekkit is spearheading the movement.

Africa, in particular, has been a major market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, but with Chekkit and other anti-counterfeit innovations and collaborations, this is about to change. Chekkit is set to disrupt the African pharmaceutical industry, and beyond. One step at a time, the startup is getting closer, each day, to providing an effective solution to the putrid but enormous counterfeit pharmaceutical market.

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Kehinde is a driven human who is passionate about leveraging technology to transform the future of humanity and the way we all live. His interest lies in constantly getting valuable information and being part of a mission that seeks to create a transformative radical shift.

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Bitcoin in Africa

The rise of CBDC in African economies

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Many nations have taken cues from the world of crypto and its resounding successes over the last decade. In order to avoid getting left behind, governments worldwide are increasingly turning their attention towards implementing some form of digital currency, a CBDC which in full is Central Bank Digital Currency. Although inspired by cryptocurrencies, CBDC’s are quite different from traditional crypto platforms. The main differences are that CBDC’s are unlikely to be decentralized, the supply of this currency regulated by the host’s country’s central bank as the CBDC is designed to operate as a sovereign legal tender, the digitized form of the host country’s fiat currency. Thus, a central bank may issue digitized tokens of its currency of which their value is pegged to the fiat currency of the nation in question, making CBDC’s stablecoins.

Africa has seen a rise in the use of cryptocurrencies and it’s still pushing frontiers in this sector. Although the use of crypto in many African nations is becoming more and more pervasive by the day, the tone of governments in many of these countries toward the sector is cautious at best and threatening at worst. However, a few nations have voiced interests in creating digitized versions of their legal tender to function as a CBDC. Amongst these are Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya and Tunisia.

Many of these projects are still in the research phase or developmental phase however. A good example is Ghana’s proposed CBDC, the E-cedi being developed in partnership with German company, Giesecke + Devrient. Nigeria’s CBDC project, the eNaira has been announced and according to Nigeria’s central bank, this CBDC will be launched sometime in 2021. To that end, the CBN has partnered with fintech company, Bitt Inc. to serve as the technical partner in the eNaira’s development. Reportedly, the CBN had made the decision to digitize the Nigerian Naira in 2017.

While the pursuance of digital currencies in African nations is a welcome development, implementation of these schemes isn’t without challenges. Chief among the issues countries in Africa face would be the already existing financial service inequality and poor penetration of internet access in the continent. These challenges must be tackled in order to allow for mainstream adoption of CBDCs and the subsequent provision of financial inclusion. The benefits largely depend on the peculiarities of the nation deploying them. For instance, a digital currency is thought to help Nigeria increase foreign remittances, it’s second largest source of forex after oil. Whatever the outcome of these projects, it is becoming apparent that CBDC’s have come to stay.

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Decentralize Brief

Bitcoin trades above $51k ahead of El Salvador’s adoption

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Bitcoin growth

Bitcoin price has rallied above $51,000 ahead of El Salvador’s adoption. The immediate surge in price may be due to the social media campaign that everyone should buy sats of Bitcoin to support El Salvador’s plan to make the coin a legal tender or it may be due to the news of El Salvador’s adoption of the coin as a legal tender on September 7. Users of social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit are discussing how they will buy Bitcoin of $30 each to mark the new El Salvador Bitcoin law.

The surge in Bitcoin’s price began in the last 24hrs with the price rallying around $51,955 with a 3.37% increase. This is an all-time high after the April crash that brought the price of Bitcoin from $64k down to $28k. The move by El Salvador to be the first country that accepts Bitcoin as a legal tender and the social media campaign that leads to a surge in price ahead September 7 are a repetition of events that occurred late last year and early this year with regards to institutional investors and how the price of Bitcoin skyrocketed.

El Salvador, a country in Central America, has been preparing heavily to adopt Bitcoin by installing ATMs to allow citizens to convert the token into US dollars. Last week, the country’s Legislative Assembly passed a law to allow for the creation of a $150m Trust to support the conversion of Bitcoins to US dollars.

To promote the use of Bitcoin, the government states that it will give the adult population of El Salvador $30 in Bitcoin once they download “Chivo” the wallet issued by the government. This was confirmed by the Finance Minister, Alejandro Zelaya.

What this means for Bitcoin investors

Apart from the adoption by Salvadorians, on-chain analytics show that Bitcoin is in high demand. The fourth halving that occurred will make Bitcoin become a scarce token in the nearest future. Thereby increasing the price sporadically.

With El Salvador’s interest in Bitcoin, other countries are likely to follow suit- Panama is considering following El Salvador’s lead. History will repeat itself as this development will serve as another crypto rout that occurred early this year when Tesla and MicroStrategy announced their support for Bitcoin.

El Salvador’s new law allows the use of Bitcoin as a legal tender it can be used to buy goods, pay for taxes and bank loans. This means more demand for Bitcoin, with the fourth halving that occurred, it means less supply. A common rule of economics for demand and supply will apply. Prices are projected to keep rising. At the time of writing this report, Bitcoin is trading at $51,839 with a projection of $52k before the end of today and higher tomorrow when Salvadorians begin to use the token.

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Crypto Assets

6 Cryptocurrencies to leverage for Building Personal Wealth Long Term

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“Investing in Crypto should be viewed as another path towards financial independence that can help people beat inflation over time.”

—Alex Mashinsky (CEO, Celsuis)

The Crypto market is blooming. Nearly 1 in every 3 individuals in Africa, particularly Nigeria, currently trade cryptocurrencies for one purpose or the other. For more than a decade now, blockchain technology has pervaded the financial markets and persistently received traction from various quarters. Its adoption rate in Africa is a force to be reckoned with. The reports are glaring enough. This has then cultivated the growing appeal of the people in trying to employ crypto as a viable tool to build wealth, albeit long term.

Recently, thousands of cryptocurrencies were known to exist in the market and the numbers keep expanding. It is, therefore, imperative that these digital coins are closely observed to identify the favourable ones for a long-term game. We, at Decentralize Africa, know this. You don’t need to make any emotional rush. This is why we’ve put together highlights of sustainable cryptos that can help you build a fortune over time if you play your cards right.

  • Ethereum (ETH)

Coming first on the pack is Ethereum. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Earlier this year, ethereum was said to have amassed a market capitalization running into billions of dollars. As if that is not enough, Ethereum pointed out its plans to remake its consensus algorithm. This will in no small measure help the crypto network perform several seamless operations and that too with reduced energy. 

The major change that was done to Ethereum’s network, i.e, a modification to Proof-of-stake, will enable players in the system to pitch ethers in a more protected and also rewarding account. This is quite comparable to the bitcoin system. So, yes, Etherum is something that should be in the plans. 

  • Stellar (XLM)

Of course, Stellar has to find a place here, innit? For one, the cryptocurrency holds promising potential for those interested in the long shot. It is more or less a fertile space in the string of blockchain networks. Most of us are privy to how tedious, cross-border transactions tend to appear. This is where Stellar comes in. The versatile platform is capable of completing payments in a matter of seconds at a meagre fee; which is payable using the Stellar coins. Stellar’s efficiency is no doubt commendable. Although like most coins, it has had its share of a downward trend in prices, there is no doubt that Stellar is yet to reach its peak. As such, analysts have observed that there’s room for expansive growth as the year’s roll by. 

  • Bitcoin (BTC)

This sequence is deliberate though. We all know the mighty bitcoin will be here, don’t we? Bitcoin has amassed a wild price range, an ever-growing market capitalization and its prospects for investment opportunities speak loud enough. Although there is an influx of cryptocurrencies today, Bitcoin embodies a large percentage of the market value. 

Investing in bitcoin is never a bad business. It has its lows of course, but it jumps pretty back in most cases. Its wide acceptability is a testament to this fact. Several companies are integrating bitcoin in their payment structure, and business-men, banks are not left in the loop as well.

  • Solana (SOL)

Interestingly, Solana is one of the few digital coins to maintain a steady rise in value. It came up the pack in 2017 and has since improved its value system over time. It offers enticing packages, by being used to complete rapid transactions and every other thing that makes it a good catch. Solana might seem a bit obscure at the moment, but it is certainly one of the best to look out for.

  • Chainlink (LINK)

More accessibility means more acceptance, right? Chain-link is that cryptocurrency that’s relatively available to most people. It’s inexpensive and a good store of value as well. This is one of the reasons that attracts many investors to it. If you are looking to invest in a cryptocurrency in this context, this is one of the coins that can help build your financial portfolio in the long run. 

  • Cardano (ADA)

It is observed that the Cardano network holds a somewhat appealing impression for myriads of reasons. It consumes far less energy which then translates to a faster transaction rate. Also, it proves to be secure and it is one blockchain network that is quite keen on developing its systems.

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