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Africa dominates crypto searches, demonstrates huge potential for uptake of blockchain technologies

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It is becoming more apparent that crypto markets will grow exponentially and not only in financially sophisticated markets with secure internet connection, high mobile penetration rates and a highly skilled labour force but even more so in developing countries where the use of cryptocurrencies for remittances, ecommerce and payments is more out of necessity than choice. LocalBitcoins and Paxful are peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading platforms that are popular among crypto users in Africa connecting as buyers and sellers. Despite recent setbacks such as the announcement by LocalBitcoins that the entity was suspending user accounts and implementing geo-restrictions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Botswana, Tunisia, Libya, and Nigeria, uptake of these new digital assets is still on the rise.

We’ve seen a lot of positive sentiment this year and a spike in interest in all things blockchain and cryptocurrency related. Google trends shows Nigeria and South Africa as the top countries in the world with the highest searches for terms such as Bitcoin. Uganda is also among the very top of the list of countries worldwide with the highest search interest in cryptocurrencies. Searches for blockchain are also on the rise worldwide with countries like Ghana leading the search traffic.

“This in addition to on-the-ground proof of interest makes us as the United Africa Blockchain Association certain that the future for deploying blockchain technologies in these key African markets is bright. Our first blockchain community engagement event for 2020 had over 200 attendees,” explained Grey Jabesi, UABA’s biz dev director and host of the Survival Skills podcast.

Africa to dominate crypto markets in the future? A closer look at the facts:

  • By 2025, nearly two-thirds of the estimated 303 million African households will have discretionary income.
  • Africa Annual report by Ornico Group expects consumer spending on the continent to rise to US$1 trillion by 2020.
  • Consumer expenditure on the continent has grown at a compound annual rate of 3.9 percent since 2010 and reached $1.4 trillion in 2015. This figure is expected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, and $2.5 trillion by 2030.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, annual growth rate is expected to average 12% through 2035.
  • In Africa’s eight largest markets, private consumption is expected to grow at 5% a year (in real terms) to $1.25 trillion in 2025.
  • By 2025, almost half of Africans will be living in cities and mobile penetration – currently over 950 million mobile subscribers in Africa, according to telecommunications researcher Ovum.
  •  in Africa is estimated at over 90%.The African continent’s population is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050, accounting for 24% of the world’s population.
  • The working-age population in Africa is growing at a clip of 2.7 percent each year. 53% percent of income earners in Africa are between 16 and 34 years old – these consumers will contribute to more than $400 billion in total consumption growth in the next decade.

Blockchain adoption challenges

“Political instability and conflict, poor infrastructure, linguistic diversity, differences in consumer behaviour, fragmented markets, and low data availability and quality could pose some challenges to adoption of some blockchain powered innovations,” said Gareth Grobler, founder and ceo of iCE3X, one of the first digital asset exchanges to launch in South Africa and Nigeria. “Despite all those potential challenges, South Africa is still one of the leading countries worldwide as far as trying to find a way to create a digital asset friendly environment.

Our COO, Eugene Etsebeth was the inaugural Chairperson for the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group back in 2016 during his tenure at the South African Reserve Bank. The wheels of government, unfortunately, do not turn as fast as we would like, but we are moving in the right direction and we look forward to being a licensed crypto-asset service provider (CASP). I personally have been consulting with the financial regulator since 2012 and I can honestly say that it is one of the best jurisdictions in which to operate,” Grobler explained.

Also Read: Gareth Grobler, Founder and CEO of iCE3X on the role of Digital Asset Exchanges in Africa

Examining factors that can influence or inhibit blockchain technology’s adoption and proliferation within the African markets is key. This includes analysing social factors and characteristics of adopters in terms of identifying behavioural barriers to adoption within different markets across the region. In addition, analysing the rate at which diffusion of innovation takes place in order to be able to device strategies and processes by which innovation is communicated through particular channels is critical.

Measuring the extent to which potential adopters perceive an opportunity to experiment with the blockchain-based innovations prior to committing to usage is necessary. Real market penetration can only be fully realised if companies consider factors that affect the rate of adoption of innovation including the extent to which the technology is perceived as difficult to understand and use, and also the degree to which the innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis, as well as the degree to which the results of those new products and services are visible to the potential adopter.

Ultimately, the extent to which these new 4IR technologies are perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters will have a significant impact on which blockchain businesses will succeed in potentially the most important market for global businesses in the future just based on population growth the fastest growing consumer base on in the world.

Success in most markets, particularly those across sub-Saharan Africa requires companies to tailor their offerings to local needs and preferences of the different demographics of potential adopters. Understanding local needs and preferences that drive mass adoption of products and becoming aware of not only local product preferences but also local buying behaviours in order to maximise on first-mover advantages in a growing consumer market such as Africa could be the key to an effective market penetration strategy for companies developing blockchain-based products.

Written by: Heath Muchena is an author, journalist and the principal at Proudly Associated which advises international blockchain companies developing technologies that have use cases focused on emerging economy development, particularly in Africa.

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Logistics

Digitalization in logistics – A user’s experience

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Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics (Source: Geraldine Mamburu)

In some cultures, children are sometimes named after events that would have taken place close to or during their birth.  Jokes around naming children Quarantine Buthelezi, Social-distance Moyo, or Pandemic Ndlovu, were circulating in 2020 and made for a good laugh, however, one couple in India took this a little too seriously and named their twin boy and girl, Corona and Covid.

Looking back, I do not recall ever coming across a proposal to name children after any of the variations around the word digital, after all, every second Point of View that was being released was around digitalization and digital transformation. It got me thinking, and realised that a lot of these terminologies are thrown about in the corporate space, but what does this actually mean to the end-user? How does the user interact, make use of, and appreciate digitalization?

Being in the logistics space has found me interacting with a lot more digital platforms over and above e-commerce, social media, and the all-so-dreaded-virtual-meeting platforms. My favourite most convenient app (which is currently the best thing ever since sliced bread in my books) has got to be Truck Fuel Net (TFN). TFN offers a cloud-based, real-time software management solution that helps me manage all my on-road refuelling and driver spend needs. Given that the bulk of operational costs in road freight is fuel, one must have their finger on the pulse and be on the constant lookout for the best price, over and above monitoring driver efficiency. The TFN Management system helps me decide, where, when, and how much the driver can refuel.

Sidebar – I’ve been driving a Ford Kuga 1.6 AWD for a few years (NB: No fire starter jokes allowed) and for such a small engine, that car can chow fuel – I’m talking 11 – 12km/100! I never used to fill up because it was painful watching all that money go down the drain. When I filled up the truck for the first-time round, let’s just say I needed to sit down because I felt a little dizzy.

Every day, we transport goods worth millions of Rands. It goes without saying that the safety and security of the driver, the goods we carry, as well as the trucks themselves, is of paramount importance. TFN’s solutions enable us to run a cashless operation. In the road freight sector, cargo, equipment, and increasingly drivers, are all targets for criminals and if we can take one incentive out of the equation, the better off we are.

Whilst on cashless operations, I would like to give SANRAL a standing ovation. Now, now, before your eyes roll all the way to the back of your head, let me just say that we might have qualms as “Gautengers” about how they went about the e-toll saga, but their app is such a lifesaver! With an e-tag fitted on the vehicle, I can manage my account quickly and securely. The app works in real-time, allowing me to be kept informed of my spend on vehicles. And lo and behold when I do forget to top up (because …you know …admin), I immediately get a notification the moment my funds are depleted, allowing me to top up immediately whilst the truck is still on route, contributing to a seamless operation. Well done SANRAL. Sometimes the government does get it right …sometimes.

The South African logistics sector contributes about 12% towards the GDP, according to Stellenbosch University and the World Bank. Of that percentage, approximately ¾ is attributed to road freight alone. With such modestly generous figures, it’s encouraging to see various organisations come up with digitally inspired solutions to cater to this industry.

This brings me to my most used platforms, Car Track and Tracker. I can only assume that before the advancement in technology, one must have had to have a great deal of faith, composure, and trust. Not to say that we no longer require these skills, but the ability to log onto these apps and be able to get real-time updates on the exact location of a customer’s goods in transit certainly prevents a blood vessel or two from popping (in the event that you cannot reach the driver.) As for Google Maps, it goes without saying, that this is the backbone of my interaction with these tracking platforms.

There are a bunch of other digital platforms such as Linebooker that I am still to explore as the business continues to grow. However, it’s been interesting to know that before we start thinking self-driven trucks (think of that one scene from Terminator, were the machine is operating the truck…but I digress) and other seemingly complex technological advancements aimed at this industry, there are still digital channels that make the day to day operations in logistics that much easier.

What other digital platforms are you using or have you heard off that have made a world of a difference in the logistics space?

Article by: Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics

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Technology

Three African-American Female Engineers Who Changed Our World

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Image source: Pexels

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) produce innovation that drives us forward as a species. Despite the fact that women and people of color have often been at the forefront of new discoveries, their representation within the STEM fields is historically low.

As culture progresses in understanding toward the value of a diverse workforce, those seeking out the future leaders of STEM are reaching out to underrepresented populations – specifically, women and people of color. One such outreach is ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’, a global campaign established by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The event, which takes place this February 25, is run by teachers, volunteers, and STEM professionals, and includes engaging engineering-based learning activities that encourage young women to develop problem solving skills and indulge their interest in science and engineering.

The road to their future success was paved by the intrepid women who came before them, including these three remarkable African-American female engineers:

  • Kimberly Bryant: Seeking to create an inclusive technology learning space for young women of color, Ms. Bryant created the not-for-profit coding camp Black Girls Code. As of late 2019, the organization has 15 chapters, and Ms. Bryant has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion as well as one of 2013’s 25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath: An early pioneer of laser surgery for cataract treatment, Dr. Bath was the first female member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the first female African-American surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, and the first female leader of a postgraduate ophthalmology training program.
  • Alice Parker: A housewife from New Jersey, Mrs. Parker developed and filed a patent for a gas-powered central heating system inspired by cold coastal winters. Her filing came before both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, a remarkable achievement for an African-American woman during her time.

More stories of African-American female engineers and  female leadership in engineering can be seen here:

To discover more about Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, visit NSPE online.

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Press Release

North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion

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North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)

North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.

The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.

The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.

“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.

The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.

“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”

Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.

 

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