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Using Blockchain to simplify the supply chain & logistics industry in Africa

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Shipping Containers Kenya
Make it Kenya (Flickr)

Lulu, a motorcycle rider in Sub-Saharan Africa, has been advised by a doctor to take at least a month’s break from work. This is as a result of a road clash with another motorcycle which left her with several bruises and significant blood loss. What this means is that there is no grain of hope that her family would have food to eat for the one month that she’ll be off work, because they live hand-to-mouth. What if she had gotten a means to transport herself to the hospital before things got worse?

Somewhere in Eastern Nigeria, Nduka, a worker in the cargo logistics industry, is struggling with his roles as a freight forwarder. The major issue is due to lack of effective tracking of goods, low payment, shipping inefficiencies, excess paperwork and other problems facing the African cargo logistics industry.

One Thing Connects Both Lulu and Nduka– The Problem of Logistics in Africa.

In Africa, there are so many Lulus, countless Ndukas, and others, who reflect what majority of African lives experience. A fierce revolution is being awakened to transform the way humans and goods are transported within the region. Behind the wheel of this revolution is the big technology– blockchain.

In 2018, Asiimwe Benson Mugisha, founder and CEO of RideSafe, set out to change the state of the healthcare system for motorcycle riders in Nairobi. His solution, RideSafe, built on a blockchain application, is an emergency response solution that allows riders to get prompt access to affordable and quality first aid at the spot of an accident.

READ ALSO: Meet The Blockchain Startup Helping Remote Areas in Africa To Access Clean Energy

In a city like Nairobi, where motorcycles are the dominant means of transportation, when riders are safe, people can also be easily and safely transported within the region. RideSafe uses smart contracts to ensure that health centres only get paid when quality medical care is provided to the riders. With a cost of $0.38 weekly, riders in a city like Nairobi, via RideSafe, can get sufficient health insurance and quality health-care services to ensure that the road transportation industry in the city is kept blossoming.

The movement of goods is just as important as that of humans. Sadly, the transportation of goods, within Africa, suffers a lot of inefficiencies that adversely affect several African nations.

TMX Global Coin is improving the state of cargo logistics in Africa. The company is harnessing blockchain to address the challenges of both the local and global logistics industry. According to the CEO, Anthony Njoroge , the company uses blockchain technology to enhance the cargo logistics business by providing an open, transparent and democratic process using a decentralised system where users are able to communicate to each other through an open platform.

READ MORE: Using Blockchain for Crowdfunding African Startups. A Decentralized Approach

This blockchain-powered solution is helping so many Africans to track their shipments. It equally eliminates the need for people to supervise dispatches and goods, which increases what the carriers of these goods get paid and improves shipping efficiency. Additionally, people along the supply chain, who make use of TMX’s platform, experience  improved transparency due to the provision of accurate data and the facilitation of effective communication between all users on the platform.

Africa Needs More Blockchain-Based Logistics Platform

Africa needs more innovative interventions across the supply chain sector. The launch of Kobo360’s blockchain-enabled Global Logistics Operating System (GLOS), which received a lot of attention and multimillion dollar funding, has presented a solution to disrupt the supply chain across emerging markets in Africa. Kobo360’s GLOS will revolutionise the supply chain across various markets within Africa by providing instant updates on delivery processes and simplifying the entire supply chain.

As more innovative Africans begin to launch blockchain-powered solutions to the supply chain and logistics industry in Africa, many more Lulus and Ndukas, all across several African cities, will continue to experience a better Africa. The rise in the number of blockchain solutions will facilitate more improved performance within the African logistics industry. Africa is on the move already, and blockchain is fuelling this movement. 

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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.

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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Artificial Intelligence

How AI Is Helping Fintechs Provide Intelligent And Better Financial Services

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AI fintech services

We live in an era of data. In today’s world, data is the new gold. The quality of services now significantly depends on how much insight can be extracted from data to help in the creation of the services. For fintech organizations, building services that harness the power of data and artificial intelligence has now become necessary to ensure that the services are tailored to meet the needs of customers. Artificial intelligence is now being used in various ways to help fintech companies provide intelligent and improved services. Some of the major areas of AI application in fintech are discussed in this article.

Risk Assessment

From insurance companies to banks and other fintech institutions, assessing credit worthiness and estimating the level of risk associated with every transaction has become very crucial. Now, many fintech companies employ the use of AI in determining the credit profiles of clients which helps to minimize financial losses when customers fail to repay loans or meet other financial commitments. 

Predicting and preventing fraudulent transactions is another challenge that fintechs are using AI to solve. Using machine learning algorithms, fintech organizations are able to build more accurate fraud detection mechanisms to curb the activities of scammers. The advantage of using machine learning for fraud detection in financial systems is that the machine learning model can learn from the financial data by itself. Thus, it is able to uncover hidden patterns and make a more robust prediction compared to traditional fraud detection algorithms. AI-based fraud detection algorithms can also be used to verify insurance claims and flag fraudulent ones. 

Churn Prediction

Customer churn is an important Key Performance Index (KPI) for any organisation. Preventing customer churn is aimpoaaaustomers and improve customer engagement. Many fintechs across the world now use AI to increase customer retention by understanding customer behaviour and making data-driven decisions to retain the audience of customers.

Intelligent Customer Service

Customer service is an aspect of fintech that has been significantly transformed by AI. The use of AI in this area has drastically reduced the need for human customer care representatives and the cost associated with employing these representatives. With AI, more customers can be attended to more efficiently via chatbots, virtual assistants etc. 

Chatbots are, particularly, one of the most common uses of AI in fintech customer service. Chatbots are sophisticated conversational AI applications that can engage with customers, address complaints and basically fill in the gap of a human employee. Chatbots have now become faster and easier means for customers to fix issues they have while using fintech services.

The Future of Fintech With AI

The use of AI in financial technology extends beyond risk assessment, churn prediction and intelligent customer service. Areas like payment processing and sentiment analysis are also being transformed by AI. Organizations like MasterCard and Visa have been able to improve the quality of their services by leveraging AI to achieve this. Personalized banking and financial services will define the future of financial technology. Better experiences will be developed for each customer in a unique and personalized manner. This may be impossible without AI. The future of fintech is geared towards smarter and more intelligent services, with AI steering the wheel to this future.

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