• Michael Dynes

Five things you didn’t know about blockchain in Africa

Out of Africa! The phrase has been used down the millennia, but is now being

used to describe the technological revolution sweeping the African continent.

Pliny the Elder – the Roman statesman and scholar who lived from 23 to 79 A.D

is credited with coining the phrase – could never anticipated that it would be used

to characterise Africa’s contribution to the development of cryptocurrencies, initial

coin offerings and the spread of blockchain apps across the crypto continent.

Here are five examples highlighing how blockchain is transforming Africa:

1. The Aziza Project is using the blockchain to boost the prospects of African

start-ups – including Africa New Energies – becoming commercially

successful. An initial coin offering is planned for October to raise $60

million to fund a ten-well drilling programme in Namibia in order to find

the hydrocarbons needed to bring electricity to every household in the


2. In West Africa, Ghana is harnessing the blockchain through the Bitland

start-up to tackle land ownership and land title challenges by using smart

contracts in real estate transactions. More than 80% of land is communally

owned, but there are few written records to prove it. Land disputes are

frequent, and multiple claimants to a single pot are not uncommon. By

putting ‘land on the ledger’ Ghana hopes to leapfrog paper records to a

digital land register.

3. Kenya-based remittance company BitPesa began life as a personal payments

platform but subsequently switched to a business-to-business (B2B) cross

border payments solution due to popular demand. The Nairobi-based start-

up now operates in seven countries – Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal,

Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – has established

a thriving remittance corridor between Africa and China using Bitcoin, and

charges 1-3% of the money being transferred compared to the 10% levied

by mainstream remittance providers.

4. Everledger, a leader in blockchain technology provenance solutions for the

diamond and coloured gemstone markets, raised $10.4 million in March to

fund the development of its digital ledger that tracks and protects high-value

assets through the value chain – reducing risk, theft, trafficking and fraud,

and giving people confidence that their diamonds are conflict free.

5. South African start-up Custos Media Technologies uses imperceptible

watermarking technology and the Bitcoin blockchain to protect digital media

files from online piracy. Custos embeds Bitcoin bounties as watermarks

within videos and DVDs etc, which can still be seen normally. Individuals –

bounty hunters – who know where to find pirated material, are able to claim

the Bitcoin reward, which can be by downloading a free tool. Once the

bounty has been pocketed, Custos can see the transaction on the

blockchain, and inform the media owner of the infringement.


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