Block Commodities’ journey into Uganda: what agriculture needs

Clinton Van Eden, Head of African Operations at Block Commodities hits the road in Uganda to talk to farmers part of Block’s pilot project in Uganda in partnership with Pure Grow Africa.

Block Commodities talks to Jane, smallholder farming from Uganda

According to the World Bank, agriculture employs 70% of Uganda’s population and represent a quarter of its GDP; however, the economic divide between commercial and small-scale farming means that many farmers live at the margin of financial inclusion. According to the International Development firm Trias, most Ugandan farmers earn around ten euros a month. Agricultural output in Uganda has grown at about 2% per annum over the last five years — below the 3–5% growth rates in other East African countries.

Smart agriculture, one that is powered by innovative tools such as drones and AI, have the potential of upscaling output and generating profits for farmers.

As the majority of the population live in rural areas, developments in agricultural technology, ICT, and agribusiness models cannot only boosts economic activity but also offer better employment prospects for the young generation and improve quality of life for farmers.

Hoping to bring economic opportunity and social change to African farmers, Block Commodities is developing Farmer 3.0, an integrated ecosystem of smart agriculture harnessing disruptive technologies to optimise agricultural activity and output using a blockchain-powered platform along with machine learning, predictive behavioural analytics and data-driven marketing.

Farmer 3.0 pilot project was launched in September and contemplates 1,000 Ugandan smallholder farmers with cryptocurrency loans for farmers to purchase fertiliser and use of technology to enhance production.

Clinton van Eden, Head of African Operations at Block Commodities, along with Bobby Juuko Kimbugwe, CEO at Pure Grow Africa visited farmers in rural Uganda to hear about their experiences and challenges.

“We lack funding to grow our production, and we need the training to ensure better techniques,” says Jane, a 46-year-old small-scale farmer in remote Uganda. Jane’s stories are typical across Africa. She raises pineapple, banana, cassava and coffee; part of her production goes to feed her family, the remaining is sold at the local level.

Among her recent pineapple production, some of the produces were affected by pests and cannot be sold or consumed — a problem that could be solved if only Jane could afford to use pesticides. “Use of pesticides can increase production in 20 to 50% in terms of quantity and quality,” says Clinton.

Furthermore, access to information and education is another crucial factor to make sure farmers take most of the technologies that are available to them. Jane, for example, doesn’t understand the value of her own crops. These hindrances contribute to keeping farmers like Jane at the margin of the economy and trade, not being able to be an integral part of the agricultural market.

On top of that, the information gap means that many farmers still use the old-fashioned way of farming, which is inefficient and holds back output. In a country where half of the women are illiterate, this is even more dramatic. “More than offering technologies and tools, our job is to close the information gap and educate these farmers so that they can take the most of their lands,” says Clinton.

The long-established agricultural system in Africa has only addressed the external needs and interests of commercial players. It is about time we developed an ecosystem which prioritises the people of Africa. “We place smallholder farmers at the centre of our work. We want them to understand that they don’t need to have money on their hands to grow production,” says Bobby from Pure Grow.

“Our mission is to take the burden off the farmers’ shoulders so they can focus only on production and let them be the best farmers they can be,” adds Clinton.

Innovation and technology can support a revolution in the agricultural and food industry, allowing Africa to fight hunger and poverty, as well as becoming an agri-food powerhouse and an important player in the global food market.

Upon successful completion of the pilot phase in Uganda, Block Commodities aims to expand the scheme to 50,000 smallholder farmers linked to Pure Grow.

Watch this space for more updates on Block Commodities and blockchain projects in Africa. Subscribe to our FinancialFox YouTube channel for all the latest developments and news.

Farmer 3.0 Africa: Block Commodities integrating small-scale farming into the global market

In Africa, building a more sustainable and equal society means empowering smallholder farmers, who make up 70% of the continent’s labour force. For this to happen, a new system is essential, and technology is here to lead the way.

Agriculture is the principal economic activity in Africa, employing 70% of the continent’s population Smallholder farming is the backbone of African agriculture, since 90% of farming output comes from small-scale producers.

However, we can’t take these figures at face value. Africa is actually a net food importer, with its annual bill of $35billion estimated to reach as much as $110 billion by 2025. In a continent of more than 30 million square km, land availability is not the problem. The hindrances to economic growth lie in poor management of land resources, along with inefficient banking practices bound in red tape, leaving most of the farming population on the margins of financial inclusion.

With interest rates going as high as 40%, most smallholder farmers are unable to afford the fertilisers, seeds and equipment they need to scale up production. On top of that, many farmers are out of physical reach of financial services: in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, institutions such as banks and insurers cover only 14% of the population.

Lack of information, poor transparency, severely limited access to funding and financial incentives, and inefficient trading practices hold back farmers’ production by 50% of its potential.

Moreover, unnecessary bureaucracy and the cost of middlemen traders across the supply, together with inconsistent record keeping, create an inefficient system where farmers’ direct access to money and resources is limited, information on input and sources is not clear, and duplications are common.

Not only does financial exclusion hold back farmers from growing their production, it also prevents them from climbing out of poverty, since without the right tools, they cannot produce at a sufficient level for commerce.

Building a new sustainable ecosystem with innovation: New technologies are pivotal in creating the farms of the future.

The long-established agricultural system in Africa has only addressed the external needs and interests of commercial players. It is about time we developed an ecosystem which prioritises the people of Africa. To make change happen, it is crucial that smallholder farmers have access to the information, resources and tools necessary to enable them to grow production and enter the trading market.

Fortunately, emerging technologies such as blockchain and decentralised systems are able to promote financial inclusion by eliminating the need for banks and middlemen. When using cryptocurrencies, for example, interest rates can be lowered to approximately 10% and accounts can be managed from a mobile phone. Indeed, the rapid technology take-up in Africa is exemplary, with internet user in Africa increasing by 20% over the last year and mobile money being a critical alternative of payment method.

Technology allows farmers to make and receive payments with no restrictions of place or time, giving them flexibility and power over their transactions. At the same time, there is full accountability: transparency and record keeping of all transactions.

“When we look at the farming and agriculture landscape in Africa, in terms of production and economy, we see there has been great exclusion of small-scale farmers from the market. 90% of food for the continent comes from European commercial farmers. Block works to integrate smallholder farmers into the system and give them access to the markets by adding value to their practices,” says Clinton Van Eden, head of Africa operations of Block Commodities, a leading agritech company operating in sub-Saharan Africa.

Beyond finance, innovative technologies are also set to educate and bring information to farmers more rapidly and easily. As a decentralised network, blockchain allows all transactions to be recorded openly, including input and output of all products, selling prices and costs throughout the supply chain.

This transparency will be a decisive factor for a consuming market which is becoming more socially and environmentally conscious.

The intercontinental manufacturing system currently in place implies that the multi-layered supply chains surpass geographical boundaries, resulting in a lack of transparency and accountability. Consumers have limited knowledge and understanding of the manufacturing process, allowing for flaws and gaps to go unnoticed by the public eye.

“Consumers are increasingly more aware and more demanding. Blockchain will support greater ethics and social responsibility from businesses. Consumers will be able to make better informed choices and the farmers are sure to get their fair share as well,” says Bobby from Pure Grow Africa.

Quality of food means also secure provenance: origins of food and traceability in the supply chain. This has always been a problem in the food industry, creating notable scandals around the world, such as the horse meat scandal in the UK and sawdust found inside cheese in the US. Now, thanks to blockchain technology we are able to address this.

Furthermore, an open-sourced practice will ensure farmers are not ‘left at the mercy of traders’ and middlemen, bringing value to small scale farming and allowing the market to operate fairly. They will have open access to information, input and resources to help them manage their production.

Empowering women: The key to food security

This new farming model also takes women farmers into account, who have been sustaining farming but receive little or no recognition for their crucial role in feeding Africa. Despite women making up the majority of farm workers — over 50% in Sub-Saharan Africa — on average only 15% of landholders are women, and they receive less than 10% of available credit.

Discriminatory regulations and one-sided practices are depriving women of their land, rights, and livelihoods. Technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts can provide secure land registry systems and can also ensure widening access to credit without discrimination, allowing women to grow their productivity.

Having the power of access to funding in their hands, female farmers can not only purchase more seeds and fertilisers, but also scale up their production by investing in smart technologies such as machine learning, drones and predictive behavioural analytics which offer accurate results for optimised performance, as well as lessen women’s physical burden through the use of machinery.

“Technology really represents the main driver of farming’s feminisation in African countries. Women who represent the lion’s share of agricultural labour will be the main ones to benefit from agri-tech innovations,” says Stefania Barbaglio, Director at Cassiopeia Services, which is working closely with many of Block Commodities’ projects.

The revolution is just the beginning

The implementation of technology into agriculture is just the first step towards building a more sustainable and equal ecosystem, where race and gender differences will no longer prevent individuals from reaching their potential. The aim of a blockchain-powered system is to build a solid foundation that will reach other sectors in African economies which could benefit from innovation to enhance transparency, accountability and efficiency.

Technology is revolutionary for developing economies because it places individuals at the centre of the economy, building a model which no longer serves the interests of corporations and discriminatory forces, but instead allows small players to be part of the market and own their place on the global stage.

For Africa, we firmly believe that innovation can help to revolutionise the agricultural and food industry, allowing Africa to feed itself and become one of the biggest contributors to the world’s food basket.

Feed Africa to feed the world: this is what we believe in.

Watch this space for more updates on Block Commodities and blockchain projects in Africa. Subscribe to our FinancialFox YouTube channel for all the latest developments and news.

Fighting for gender equality in African farming: Empowering Women to achieve food security

Women hold the key to food security in Africa, say FAO and the African Union. However, the gender gap in farming is wide and opportunities remain unequal between men and women. How to close the gap? Enter technology and innovation.

A report from FAO and the African Union (AU) says that addressing the gender inequalities in Africa is a necessary step to end hunger by 2025. Indeed, a lot of work is still to be done here.

Figures show a significant gap between men and women in African farming: the female share of the agricultural labour force in sub-Saharan Africa is the highest in the world. In most sub-Saharan countries, women represent more than 50 percent of the workforce; in some areas more than 60 percent.

Yet, despite women making up the majority of farm workers, on average only 15% of landholders are women, and they receive less than 10% of available credit. The lack of access to financial services is only one of the factors putting women at a disadvantage in this scenario.

Female African farmers face many obstacles: denial of land rights, lack of access to lines of credit and appropriate technologies, and gaps in skills and information. In addition, female farmers are victims of very similar challenges facing many women worldwide: time constraints due to the hours of household work they are expected to perform on top of their farming activities.

In terms of production, women are also lagging behind men because they have limited access to agricultural extension services, preventing them from adopting technologies that would help increase their yields. As a result, a yield gap between men and women of 20% to 30% has been noted.

In a world where policies can be slow to address inequality, there is benefit in realising that technology can offer practical solutions to the long-standing problems that have deprived women from carving their place in the business, thus allowing the journey to gender equality to move forwards.

Technology for women empowerment

"When we look at the problems holding back production from smallholder farmers, such as lack of information and financial exclusion, we think those can all be solved with technology that is available to use," says Clinton van Eden, Head of Africa Operations of Block Commodities, a leading AgriTech company in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Lack of information, funding and financial incentives, and the poor exchange practices hold back farmers’ production by 50% of its potential if the system worked at an optimal level."

One of the main issues holding back women from being more active in this sector is the lack of adequate documentation for land rights. The African Union gender equality commitments focus on achieving 30 percent documented land ownership and 50 percent finance for women by 2025.

Inequitable laws and practices are depriving women of their land, rights, and livelihoods. Technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts can provide secure land registries systems, as is already taking place in African countries.

Technological innovation can also ensure widening access to credit without discrimination, allowing women to grow their productivity. Local interest rates to purchase fertilisers can be as high as 45%, so they are not a viable option for smallholder farmers. Block Commodities is developing a system in which this rate can be reduced to 12% thanks to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

“Our project represents a potentially significant reset for finance and commodities market development in Africa, a problem that is being addressed by bold and innovative technologies and partnerships. We are helping to empower African farmers through loans to purchase fertilizer and have better access to markets," says Chirs Cleverly, chairman of Block Commodities and advocate for black women’s rights.

Smart technologies such as machine learning, drones and predictive behavioural analytics offer accurate results for optimised performance, as well as lessening women’s physical burden through the use of machinery.

"New technologies are coming in to disrupt this model bringing access, data, and new resources. A single smartphone app can facilitate many processes, such as seamless payments, data gathering and comparing, resource locating and analysis. New technologies represent an invaluable opportunity for smart farming as they promote automation of agricultural processes, making muscular strength redundant" says Stefania Barbaglio, Director at Cassiopeia Services, which is working closely with many of Block Commodities’ projects.

"Technology really represents the main driver of farming’s feminisation in countries like Africa. Women who represent the lion’s share of agricultural labour will be the main ones to benefit from AgriTech innovations. We want to see women empowered and able to provide for their families."

Women also take fewer cooperative positions and leadership roles. Technology applications can not only improve production output but also provide them with the tools to help them raise their voices, ensuring they have a place in key conversations and expanding their influence in decision-making strategies.

Moreover, technology enables food security and development programmes to be taken beyond the agricultural sphere, contributing to other sectors such as infrastructure and education, promoting the narrowing of the gender gap in a multi-sectorial approach.

Community of farmers in Zambia

Real life impact is already tangible

Positive change is already noticeable in the life of farmers who are benefitting from innovation programmes.

Monica is a young smallholder farmer from Zambia who took her production from subsistence to commercial scale thanks to Block’s outreach. Block’s low-interest loan enabled Monica to produce enough 8 tons of maize, which is enough for her and her family, as well as a surplus which was commercialised and turned into income. Monica is now earning nearly 70% more than the Zambian minimum wage.

‘The core aim of technological developments is ultimately to improve human lives and drive positive change in the world. Technology is able to overcome this gender divide in African agriculture caused by years of unequal rights, discriminatory policies and government bureaucracies because technology sees no gender, it is made to create effective solutions,’ adds Chris Cleverly.

IOHK/Cardano paving the way for Blockchain-powered development in Africa

In the latest episode of FinancialFox TV, blockchain PR guru Stefania Barbaglio talks to John O’Connor, Head of African Operations at Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK), the team behind the Cardano blockchain and ADA coin. Founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson, also co-founder of Ethereum, IOHK is developing decentralised open-source technologies set to cause cascading disruption.

Blockchain PR Guru Stefania Barbaglio interviews John O’Connor, African Operations at IOHK

Cardano represents the third -cryptocurrency, emerging from a group of tech academics and researchers whose core objective is to deploy blockchain technology to disrupt inefficient systems in the developing world.

Blockchain could serve as a superb tool to accelerate growth as it addresses the PROBLEM OF TRUST, which currently holds back development in many parts of the world. Establishing open-sourced far-reaching decentralised systems will help to shift the authority and decisional power, which currently lie with governments and centralized institutions, onto individuals. Thanks to transparency, accountability and scalability features embed in the blockchain, the same level of trust and security can be ensured as new participants enter the network.

Charles Hoskinson, founder of IOHK, says their mission is to develop an efficient decentralised system that can support change in the developing world: “About 3 billion people are unbanked and as the consequence of not having good identity, financial infrastructure; they don’t have the ability to climb out of poverty without a considerable amount of assistance or leaving their country, which creates ‘brain drain’,” said Hoskinson when Cardano announced plans in Ethiopia.

John O’Connor, currently based in Ethiopia, talks about Cardano’s ambitious plans in Africa and latest developments in its first project in Ethiopia.

Watch here interview:

In Ethiopia, where 80 million people work in agriculture, Cardano is leveraging on its unique blockchain platform to spur growth in the agritech sector. Thanks to John, Cardano has entered into an agreement with the local government to apply its blockchain to the coffee supply chain.

John belives that the secret to success in implementing blockchain in developing economies is to understand the specific/local problems and flaws in each country’s underlying systems and apply tailored blockchain applications to address them effectively.

One of John’s initial questions was: “How can we enable the local players to take advantage of this technology to improve their economy and likes?”. The answer is: “Identify a problem and offer the best simple solution”.

The other element of a successful project is having the right local partners and ensure the population is educated about blockchain: “The way is to work with local partners and individuals who are excited about what this technology can do.”

Cardano’s projects in the agritech sector is just the beginning. The aim is to build a solid foundation for other sectors in Africa which could benefit from blokchain in term of transparency, accountability and future growth.

As agriculture employs 70 million Africans, it a fundamental sector in ensuring economic growth. With blockchain agritech applications in place, the population will be empowered to embrace a wider revolution.

Africa is already seen a growing number of start-ups with new ideas on how technology can help drive economy. One example is the company Block Commodities also operating in the agriculture sector. Block is developing a commodity ecosystem that offer lending solutions in cryptocurrencies to Sub-Saharan farmers so they can grow their business and produce under better conditions and terms. Their pilot project has just started in Uganda. Check out for more.

Cardano’s mission is to unlock a new era of development, powered by technology and decentralisation, where individuals become their own masters, relying on their own assets to climb out of poverty and fight unsettling conditions, while taking control back from central authorities.

Despite its innovative spirit, Cardano is not the first business to come up with solutions for the problem of financial exclusion in Africa. The African mobile payment market is largely dominated by the platform M-Pesa, which currently has 30 million users worldwide.

However, M-Pesa is a centralised platform run by telecommunications companies. Cardano, on the other hand, is heavily decentralised and enables the use of smart contracts, a key element to decentralisation and individual empowerment.

Blockchain is revolutionary for developing countries because it targets the core problem: TRUST. Because of its shared, open-sourced structure, blockchain allows for transparency and accountability. Starting with Agriculture, Cardano its looking to deploy its technology into sectors such as land registry, housing healthcare, and gaming. IOHK has recognized the need for the gaming, in particularly, the need to improve its practices in transparency security and transfers, which again could be addressed by decentralized systems.

Blockchain makes it possible for more efficient businesses and partnerships, basically “anything that involves a process, blockchain can improve,” says John.

What this space for more updates on Cardano and blockchain projects in Africa. Subscribe to our FinancialFox YouTube channel for all the latest developments and news.

Uganda opens gate for Blockchain revolution in African agriculture

Announced this morning, a revolutionary project led by London listed Block Commodities (NEX: BLCC) is set to transform African agriculture. Addressing the problem of inefficiency in farming practices and exclusionary policies, Block is deploying blockchain to create an ecosystem designed to help farmers overcome the numerous challenges faced in growing production.

Thanks to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, Block has been able to develop a unique model to empower smallholder African farmers, offering lower interest rate loans for buying fertiliser and better terms for repayment. Farmers are in a better position to grow their produce in a new agricultural ecosystem, which thanks to Block’s key partners in Africa, can maximize production and reduce inefficiencies.

Pure Grow farmers will be part of Block’s blockchain ecosystem

The revolution starts now in Uganda

In this first phase, Block is partnering with Pure Grow Africa, a leading supplier of high-quality agricultural produce based in Uganda, supporting the development of the blockchain-powered ecosystem which lies at the core of its mission to help Africa grow.

The scheme will benefit 1,000 smallholder farmers selected by Pure Grow to integrate Block’s blockchain ecosystem. The farmers will be given cryptocurrency loans with which to purchase fertiliser — vital for increased production — starting repayments only after harvesting. The loans’ interest rates stand at around 12%; less than half of the current rates.

Moreover, in order to maximise the project’s results, Block has developed a strategy to ensure that farmers are able to embrace the technology, and that the agricultural output is well-maintained and distributed.

Bobby Juuko Kimbugwe, Director at Pure Grow Africa, is committed to ensuring that the farmers enjoy maximum benefit from the project: “We are placing smallholder farmers at the centre of our work; they are at the core of what we do. We want them to understand that they do not need to have money in their hands to be able to grow production,” he commented.

Upon successful completion of the pilot phase, the scheme will reach 50,000 farmers across sub-Saharan Africa.

Block Commodities’ wide-reaching ecosystem is also underpinned by agreements with other key partners: FinComEco, Dala Wala, The Swarm Fund and Vipa Holdings.

Agriculture: the Foundation of African economies

Cryptocurrency loans allow farmers to grow production

Agriculture is the backbone of many economies in Africa: all across the continent, the sector employs 70% of the population, most of whom produce only enough to feed themselves and their families. In sub-Saharan Africa, activities related to agriculture already account for nearly 50% of the GDP.

Yet, figures from the World Bank are promising, indicating that the agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa could reach a market value of US1 trillion by 2030. This highlights the enormous opportunity ahead for farmers; however, in order to ensure that African economies are able to keep up with the growth in this sector, policies and initiatives must be put in place to manage the increased output.

Block Commodities’ project is acting at the core of this issue, using technology to empower smallholder farmers so that they can scale up their production from subsistence to commercial level, generating revenue for themselves.

In Uganda, where the pilot project is taking place and the economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, access to fertilisers and seeds could double the income of smallholder farmers, raising the per capita income to $1,200, bringing Uganda closer to a middle-income economy.

Improving agricultural practices can not only give farmers a better life, but also help Africa achieve its first Millennium Development Goal: eradicating poverty — a goal which was not achieved by 2015 — and reduce the continent’s ever-increasing food import bill.

Investments in agriculture have a proven record to spur social and economic growth in Africa. In Ethiopia, for example, thanks to combined efforts by the public and the private sector to tackle problems in agribusinesses, poverty is reducing by 5% a year. It is this scenario, as well the creation of thousands of jobs, which gives the large young population in Africa the prospect of a brighter future.

Block is unlocking the potential of agriculture in Africa: the revolution has started. Look out for the upcoming chapters of Block’s project.

Block Chairman Chris Cleverly has been in Uganda to close the deal and meet farmers from Pure Grow. Here are the highlights of their meeting.

Cardano: Science for human empowerment and financial inclusion

Cardano (ADA) is among the top 10 coins rated by Coin Market Cap, however some particularities about this coin and blockchain that makes it stand out and hold a unique promise of growth. The mission and philosophy behind Cardano is to be more than a cryptocurrency: it was designed to be a technological platform capable of supporting the myriad of financial transactions and applications performed by individuals, governments and institutions especially in developing economies.

Founded in 2015, with a solid academic base, Cardano is the first cryptocurrency to evolve from scientific research led by a highly skilled team of engineers and researchers. Cardano team members have the shared vision of creating a cryptocurrency that encompasses all the possibilities unlocked by blockchain technology and applies them to empower individuals and systems in the developing world.

Cardano is fully human-centered. Its ultimate mission is to bring innovation and technology to create an ecosystem that is balanced, sustainable and focused on the needs of its users. Thus, his focus is on the true practical applications of blockchain and how they can ultimately create a better environment for businesses and individuals.

The development of Cardano is strongly based on academic research and peer review which make sit one of the protocols with the most advanced features in crypto. Its language is written in Haskell, ensuring an accurate mathematical code. Because of regulatory oversight and consumer privacy, Cardano is a flexible and scalable system, very adequate for adoption at large scale and multiple uses.

Unlike other currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum whose network is built on a proof-of-work, Cardano uses a new proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm called Ouroboros to reach consensus, which results in less consumption of energy and computational power to be mined, encourage honesty and long-term participation. PoS enhances efficiency and widens the possibility of individuals having control over their cryptocurrencies themselves.

Cardano is the result of a collective effort from three organisations: the Cardano Foundation, based in Switzerland that supports the Cardano community and liaises with authorities; IOHK, the research body leading development of the platform; and Emurgo, who looks after investments and venture capital to build on the Cardano blockchain.

IOHK is the brains behind the Cardano blockchain. Their team is made of scientists and engineers engaged in developing decentralised open-source technologies that are able to cause cascading disruption.

Committed to the development of emerging economies: The projects in Africa and Asia

Cardano acts at the heart of the Smart Africa Alliance: a joined effort of African nations and partners like the World Bank to bring the continent forward. The alliance was created to transform Africa using the power of technology and relies on five pillars for development: Policy, Access, e-Government, Entrepreneurship and sustainable development.

Cardano offers the technology necessary for systematic changes to happen. With the multitude of applications that blockchain has, a decentralised technology can enable digital payments, smart contracts, food traceability and loads more.

In Ethiopia, more than 80 million people work in agriculture; production of coffee taking the largest sum of those. Having developed a deep understanding of both the social and economic importance of growing coffee, in addition to team’s unique connections within the country , Cardano entered in an agreement with the Ethiopian government to implement Cardano technology into coffee supply chain — with the possibility of extending this deal to other sectors upon good results.

According to reports, Cardano expects Ethiopian developers to be using the platform by the end of the year.

Apart from Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda have already shown interest in bringing in Cardano to their economies. Last month during IOHK team in Africa, Charles Hoskinson visited Rwanda and talked to authorities about plans of implementing decentralised systems in public systems and IOHK also announced plans to provide blockchain training for students in the region.

In a video interview, John O’ Connor, IOHK Director of African Operations commented on opportunities and projects in Rwanda. “Whilst our technology is general and be built to many different applications, you need to start by understanding what the problems are,” he said. “Rwanda is an interesting country because of the ability of running trial projects at small scale, with population of 10 million people and a progressive, technology interested government.”

Uganda is another targeted country for Cardano’s expansion since the country shows an incredible growth mobile penetration and technology take up, especially among the younger generations.

Also addressing flaws in food supply chain, Cardano team is looking into applying its blockchain in Vietnam and Cambodia to trace beef supply through, from its origins all the way into food markets. “It creates a single global market enabling anyone to trade at a global scale, which is revolutionary. The blockchain platform can solve many varied issues and make the world a better place,” said Hoskinson.

It is publicly known that Cardano intends to take its technology beyond Africa onto other developing countries in South America and Asia.

Hoskinson revealed that his motivation in the crypto world is to develop an efficient decentralised that can support change in the developing world: “About 3 billion people are unbanked and as the consequence of not having good identity, financial infrastructure; they don’t have the ability to climb out of poverty without a considerable amount of assistance or leaving their country which creates brain drain.”

“This technology has no owner. This technology has no central point of failure. This technology has no one in control. Instead, it’s infrastructure, global infrastructure that no matter what, how rich you are or poor you are, use the same infrastructure.”

Indeed, the recently launched 2018 Africa Blockchain report from Liquid Telecom reinforces the praise that tech initiatives have in Africa. Initiatives at a local and global level are critical; to ensure the continent moves forward and grow sustainability .

John O’Connor, Director of African Operations at IOKH, will be special the guest on the FinancialFox TV show next week. Questions and suggestion of topics welcomed, get in touch at info@cassiopeia-ltd.com

The UK commits to support sustainable development in Africa

In her visit to Africa, Theresa May shows commitment to boost long-term growth of economies all across the continent and promises the UK and Africa will continue to have strong ties regardless of Brexit outcomes.

The Prime Minister said she wanted the UK to become the G7’s biggest investor in Africa by 2022 — overtaking the position currently held by the US. May also pledged investments of £4bn in the African countries, hoping mainly to spur economic growth to create jobs for the young generations.

During her speech, stressed the multi-billion aid is not only to relieve poverty but instead to support future growth across the country. African growth is in fact in the interest of all economies worldwide; she said: “Between now and 2035, African nations will have to create 18 million new jobs every year to keep pace with the rapidly growing population. That’s almost 50 000 new jobs every single day, simply to maintain employment at its current level. It’s in the world’s interest to see that those jobs are created. If we fail to do so, the economic and environmental impact will soon reach every corner of the world.”

While Brexit negotiations are still ongoing and seem far to an agreement, in Africa, May promised to continue the partnerships with Mozambique and South Africa — even after EU and UK part ways: “Our integrated global economy means good news for British and African people. That is why I will today confirm plans to carry over the EU partnership agreement with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique, once the EU deals no longer apply to the UK.”

In order to be truly effective and life-changing, the effort has to come from all levels: “True partnerships are not about one party doing unto another, but states, governments, businesses and individuals working together in a responsible way to achieve common goals,” said the PM.

Indeed, In the private sector, UK-based companies have researched and addressed issues in Africa for a while. Leading Agri-tech company is Block Commodities is a case in point. Reborn from African Potash, previously a fertilizer/commodity trading company, Block is now deploying blockchain technology to create an efficient ecosystem to support increased agricultural output.

The disruptive potential of blockchain technology can benefits significanty developing economies, enabling organic growth at a local level. This is an important and necessary step to consolidate Africa as a global player in the food market.

“Creating a smart network between the farmers and the outer environment is now achievable because of technology… These things are now available for us to use and create a unique solution for farming problems in Africa,” says Block Chairman Chris Cleverly, highlighting the crucial role of innovation in economic and social growth.

Chris Cleverly has been spending the last 2 weeks in Africa, in Uganda for the upcoming pilot project and then South Africa, where he spent time with the Ramaphosa family, and met key people including Kwame Rugunda, son of Ugandan Prime Minister, the son of South African President, Tumelo Ramaphosa, and his wife Tshepo Motsepe. There were also some key players in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space like Cardano and its owner/inventor Charles Hoskinson.

Block Commodities Chairman Chris Cleverly in his recent visit to Africa

Agriculture represents more than 30% of Africa’s GDP and employs more than 60% of its working population. Yet, because of reduced use of resources and inefficient infrastructure, twenty million Africans face food insecurity, particularly in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. By 2025, Africa’s annual food is estimated to rise to $110 billion.

Long-term economic growth relies very much on exploiting the potential of the continent, both concerning natural and human resources wisely and the numbers above evidence the urgency which Africa needs sustainable long-lasting solutions.

May’s announcement follows the 2018 Blockchain report from Liquid Telecom which praises tech initiatives at local level and says they are keys to ensure the continent moves forward.

The report highlights Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as the economies leading tech innovation in the continent.

The core objective of technological advancements is ultimately to bring positive change and improve quality of life. The best way to do so is to understand problems to their root, and develop creative solutions to issues that are proper to one area

“Technology and science innovation is not just the development of new technologies or discoveries but is often the novel application of an existing technology to specific local needs and limitations. In many cases, such breakthroughs are not ‘pure’ technology but rather solutions based on the ability of a local innovator to recognize a challenge, develop a deep understanding of its causes and opportunities, study the local landscape, scan the globe for best practices, and design a creative, implementable approach that is relevant, adaptable and scalable” said HE Ameenah Gurib- Fakim, President of Mauritius (2015–2018) in a speech at the Chatham House.

A new era is surging in Africa thanks to technology.