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The future of energy in a blockchain era

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Blockchain in energy industry

Innovations involving the application of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, big data and analytics and artificial intelligence have become ubiquitous in the energy sector, thereby, disrupting the entire energy industry. The spree of innovations is approaching another level of massive disruption as blockchain technology is now being integrated into the energy industry.

In 2017, the global blockchain-in-energy market was estimated to be worth 279 million dollars, according to a study by MarketsandMarkets. The study forecasts that this market would reach 7.1101 billion dollars by 2023, at a CAGR of 78.32%, during the period of the forecast. The widening expansion of the blockchain-in-energy market points us to the massive potential that lies ahead for blockchain within the energy sector in the future where more blockchain-in-energy innovations would flood the market.

How can blockchain transform the energy sector?

The potential applications of blockchain in the energy industry are exceedingly vast. Some of these potential applications are already being implemented but are still miles away from achieving what is maximally possible with the fusion of blockchain in the energy industry. In some parts of Europe, massive investments have been made to leverage the use of blockchain in combating fraudulent transactions between stakeholders in the energy industry. Major tech players, such as IBM and SAP, have also launched solutions that involve the implementation of blockchain in energy. Here are some ways by which blockchain can transform the energy sector.

Peer-to-Peer Energy Trading 

Renewable power generation is on the rise, and more smaller power generators and storage systems, like solar energy systems and electric vehicle batteries, are contributing to the power grid. As these renewable power generation and storage systems increase, the need for peer-to-peer energy trading becomes more pivotal to achieving efficient energy distribution.

Peer-to-peer energy trading allows consumers, who generate more energy than they require, to sell the excess energy to other consumers via a secure platform. The immense potential of peer-to-peer energy trading pushes the energy industry towards the creation of a sharing economy, which, in turn, enhances efficient energy distribution. 

Through the integration of smart contracts, blockchain offers a useful leverage that is pivotal to the success of peer-to-peer energy trading. The implementation of smart contracts allows individuals to seamlessly trade without the need for a retailer or middleman. With smart contracts, individuals are able to efficiently trade energy, deciding whom to buy from and sell to, and under what conditions the transaction can hold, without having to worry about the complexities involved in trading energy. This significantly cuts down the costs associated with buying and selling electricity and makes the process more efficient. 

An individual, for example, may be willing to sell energy of 5kWh. With blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy trading services, the seller can configure the suitable terms and conditions that must be met before the energy can be transferred to the buyer. A smart contract will ensure that the energy is transferred to the buyer only when the specified criteria are met. Once the transfer is made, the seller will immediately get paid.

The first recorded occurrence of peer-to-peer energy trading was in 2016. Since then, the concept has continuously blossomed. The idea of peer-to-peer energy trading is attracting quite a lot of attention within the energy industry.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging

Electric vehicles offer a very efficient means of transportation and are more environment friendly than their counterpart gasoline vehicles. However, a potential challenge associated with the use of these vehicles is the limited access to charging infrastructure.

Blockchain offers a solution to effectively tackle this lack of sufficient charging infrastructure. Blockchain-powered solutions can enable individuals to share access to their personal EV chargers with others through peer-to-peer (P2P) EV charging platforms. The shared access to EV chargers will attract a fee which will be paid to the owners of the EV chargers. This allows owners of electric vehicles to easily search for available chargers, at any location, and charge their cars when they need to, instead of relying on general EV charging infrastructure which are only available at specific locations. By utilizing idle EV chargers, blockchain-based solutions can increase access to EV chargers at any location, hence, driving the adoption of electric vehicles. 

Settlement Of Trades  And Validation of Transactions

Blockchain is widely perceived and used as a tool to ensure transparency, security and validation of transactions, in various industries. Through the idea of a distributed ledger, blockchain is suitably positioned as a tool for replacing administrative units and the use of central storage systems in the validation of transactions within the energy industry. 

For Over The Counter (OTC) trades in the energy industry, such as OTC commodity trading, which ideally involves two counterpart parties, the process of confirming transaction details by both parties, to prevent errors or disagreements, can be automated with blockchain. With the use of blockchain, the exchange of trade confirmations can be done directly between the parties involved, without having to involve a middleman. This minimizes the occurrence of trade disputes in the energy sector. In the event of any trade dispute, the details of the transaction can easily be verified on the blockchain since the data stored on the blockchain is immutable, hence, all trade details can be easily traced and validated.

Supply Chain and Logistics

Logistics and supply chain are very complex systems.

In the energy supply chain, there is a continuous transfer of ownership of energy commodities, and other assets within the industry, as they are continuously purchased by participants in the supply chain and sold to other participants. Most of these ownership transfers are often recorded manually. Hence, there is a great risk of fraud since the information can be tampered with. Blockchain addresses this issue of fraud by tracking the movement of commodities along the supply chain and providing a tamper-proof data storage system.  This reduces the cost associated with these processes, and also hinders anyone from falsifying ownership records by providing optimum data security.

Data sychronization is another key offering that makes blockchain promising enough to disrupt the energy supply chain and logistics. Blockchain enables the synchronization of data from multiple participants involved in logistics. This enhances the interoperability between all participants, which translates to cost reduction and significant improvements in traceability and regulatory compliance.

The Journey Ahead For Blockchain in Energy

Blockchain is expected to further disrupt the energy sector in the near future. We should expect to see more blockchain-based energy innovations. Peer-to-peer energy trading is one of the most attractive and promising applications of blockchain in the industry. In 2018, 59 percent of blockchain projects in the energy industry were focused on peer-to-peer energy markets, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie

Other applications of blockchain in the energy sector, like EV charging, are also gaining traction. A limitation to the widespread deployment of blockchain designs is the difficulty associated with developing, deploying and maintaining them. However, major tech players are already offering easy-to-use services that simplify the development of blockchain infrastructures for solutions in the energy sector.

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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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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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