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Blockchain Technology

Intra-African Fertilizer Trade Worth Almost $400 Million USD Executed Using Blockchain



Africa fertilizer
Image Credit: AfDB

According to the official website of the Eastern and Southern Trade and Development Bank (TDB), recently announced that the first Intra-African multi-million trade, which is worth nearly $400 million was done using blockchain.

The Intra-African Fertilizer trade was facilitated by the TDB, in which the OCP Group, a state-owned phosphate mining and fertiliser producer delivered the phosphate fertilizers from Morocco to the Ethiopian buyer.

These transactions were executed via a blockchain platform provided by dltledgers, a Singapore Fintech which operates on R3 Corda decentralized and consensus network. $270 million has already been paid, and the remainder is to be paid in a few months’ time.

The multi-giant fertilizer company, OCP Group, said that it is part of their digitalization strategy to support the use of blockchain for trade transactions and to reduce the trade finance gap among the countries in Africa, thereby, boosting trading, majorly in the fertilizer sector, through digital inclusion.

In a joint statement by the parties involved, the import-export trading deal was done under two hours, and this was made possible by the unique characteristics of blockchain technology (i.e eliminating middlemen, speedy transactions etc).

The traditional banking system, however, would ordinarily take about three weeks to fully finalize the whole deal. This is due to the movement of documents needed to be signed from the sellers to the buyers. Also, the lockdown of the border and airport due to COVID-19 pandemic would have most probably increased it to six weeks, thereby, causing more delays.

The blockchain platform provided by dltledgers enabled the parties involved to upload, view, edit, and audit the documents in one private blockchain, simultaneously, and in real time.

Added advantages for transactions done via blockchain is that they are more secure, due to blockchain’s encryption and verification technologies. Also, there is transparency and traceability, which reduces risks and eliminates potential errors in the movement of documents.

Earlier this year, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) had already used the blockchain platform created by dltledgers to facilitate the importation of White Cane Sugar worth $22 million, from India to Ethiopia with Singapore-based Agrocorp acting as the seller and trading company.

In October 2019, Trade and Development Bank (TBD) became the first African Development Finance Institution (DFI) to execute an end-to-end trade finance on the continent, by making use of the blockchain. This has served as a template which TBD has been able to replicate for further Intra-African trade transactions.

Since Agriculture is an important sector in the countries within Africa (e.g 31% of Ethiopia’s GDP). Through this deal, both the OCP Group and CBD have empathised the need for structured and efficient collaboration to face the challenges poised against sustainable Agriculture in Africa.

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Blockchain Technology

Can NFTs play-to-earn game usher in the next generation of platforms?



Blockchain technology is taking the world by storm with massive leaps into various fields such as the arts, sports, real estate, finance and now gaming. The first NFT game propped up in 2017 in a Crypto Kitties video game and a pixel art CryptoPunks giveaway. It gained short term popularity and went back into its shell during the 2018 crash. A new wave began later till date. This article explores NFT-based online video games. Enjoy!

NFT-based Online Video Games explained

Non-Fungible Token (NFT) are proof of ownership of digital assets. It’s equivalent to having copyright over a piece: artwork, music, design or any other digital asset. For instance, Leonardo Da Vinci, the artist that painted the Mona Lisa image died over 500 years ago. The Mona Lisa image has remained relevant since then, it can be downloaded and printed on a shirt by anyone. The image is not owned by anyone, so, no one can claim ownership of it. However, since the French government can prove its authenticity via its provenance, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre is considered priceless. The priceless image and the one on the shirt are two worlds apart. Let’s say the priceless one can be sold as NFT. The rise of NFTs led developers to shift their gaze to the opportunities of online Play-to-Earn games for game lovers. 

NFT-based online video games combine conventional gaming designs with unconventional game mechanisms that allow users to have control over in-game assets such as skins, characters, weapons, virtual lands and others. These features are supported by launching games on blockchain technology and anchoring them with asset-powered economies 

NFTs are commonly used for these digital assets since they are distinctive and tamper-proof. The implementation of NFT token standards also allows developers to keep certain of these in-game objects rare and distinctive. As a result, some blockchain gaming assets are seen as more valuable than others.

Players can claim ownership of game assets using three basic tactics with this system in place. They could create or breed new characters, buy digital products on native or third-party marketplaces, or earn and unlock additional items. You have exclusive ownership rights to these game assets regardless of how you access them. In other words, you can distribute or sell them and keep 100% of the profit.

Rise of NFT-based Online Video Games

When the Covid-19 pandemic got heated in 2020, the stay-at-home order and its resultant effect in ravaging jobs and businesses across the world led most people to look for other ways to earn money online. This led to the popularity of NFT-based online video games which raked in $20billion in 2020 alone. One such game is the Axie Infinity where players collect, breed, raise, battle and trade digital creatures. Participants of this game rake up to $400 per month which may vary based on the exchange rate of the game’s cryptocurrency in USD. The game does not require special skills before it can be won making it one of the legit ways to earn money online. Most Filipinos earn a living through this game as it gained popularity by June 2021. Play-to-Earn games often require players to pay an up-front cost through cryptocurrency to play the game and receive the game’s prizes. These ‘prizes’ can be sold later when they increase in price. 

Is the NFT Play-to-Earn game ushering in the next generation of platforms?

The NFT Play-to-Earn game is an innovative way of earning money online in the form of leisure. Before now, it was Pay-to-Play without gains attached; except for the feelings of satisfaction. The popularity that online NFT games have attracted to themselves show how fast the industry has grown within a short time. Players now spend hundreds of dollars just t get an upgrade on their avatar or to access a highly coveted item. There are an estimated 1 billion online gamers currently active worldwide, experts forecast that the number will grow to 1.3 billion gamers by 2025. 

Nothing feels good more than earning in your leisure time. For game lovers, this is a chance for you to do your best and earn with it. What an utmost spree of enjoyment!


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Artificial Intelligence

The Metaverse in Bits and Pieces



The metaverse is coming. Or maybe it is already here. But interest in the concept has soared higher than ever before after Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his newly renamed company, Meta Systems Inc., would take up the task of building a metaverse within the next few years. The metaverse, which started out as a fictional concept in the 1992 book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, is a virtual reality built on top of the real one in which people live, interact and do what people do. Meta Inc. hopes to bring this vision to life by “rendering the internet” in 3d.

The metaverse is going to be a virtual world but a much more immersive one, more so than our current digital worlds. The aim is to create a reality that would otherwise be indistinguishable from the real one in many aspects while also outdoing real life in others. The possibilities are endless. However, the crux of the matter remains that if a metaverse is built in the way currently envisioned by Meta Inc. and other tech visionaries, then the people living in those virtual worlds obviously would interact in ways already done in real life and more.

Living out life, working, playing and socializing from a 3d digital space inevitably means economics will come to play in some way. The question of how technologies like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies would fit into this digital future remains fuzzy but many are optimistic that cryptocurrencies would be the currencies of the metaverse. And they certainly could. The most touted features of blockchain based cryptocurrencies such as immutability and security are one of the biggest talking points for why cryptocurrencies should take center stage in the finances of any metaverse and should the metaverse use cryptocurrencies for its transactions and exchange of value, it could further boost their mainstream adoption.

NFT’s are also getting a buzz from the metaverse concept. While NFT’s have had their fair share of criticism, amongst which are that NFT’s are not environmentally friendly or that purchasing NFT’s is akin to buying air, all that could change in the metaverse. The issue seems to have been that an NFT token was not much use in the real world, however, this would or could be radically different in a virtual one. NFT’s provide a solid opportunity for metaverse users to own virtual property which would be NFTs of real estate to artwork or memes, all real-world items or commodities carried over to the virtual one.

What, if anything, would be the fate of fiat currencies in the metaverse? While conversation is going strong about the role of cryptocurrencies and NFTs in these virtual worlds, it is important to note that the vast majority of the world’s money exists digitally. Besides, seeing as cryptocurrency use is still far from mainstream in many ways, metaverse users ultimately must reconcile their virtual lives with their real ones. Trade and commerce in the metaverse may overlap with real life just as online shopping does and the question is how fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies would be used within those spaces.

The metaverse may already be here, in bits and pieces. Nevertheless, if it succeeds in the ways laid down by its proponents, it would fundamentally change how people live, work and play.

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Blockchain Technology

How blockchain can bridge the trust gap in governance



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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