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.