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United Africa Blockchain Association 2020 Vision is to push technology adoption on the continent forward

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The Bitcoin 2020 Party in Cape Town will be a celebration of blockchain developments in Africa

Africa’s economic and technological development agenda is noticeably pivoting towards a focus on Fourth Industrial Revolution innovations such as blockchain technology. A World Economic Forum survey suggested that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027. In addition, worldwide spending on blockchain solutions is expected to grow to nearly 12 billion by 2022 according to research.

Blockchain technology has the potential to foster innovation and broaden access to financial services in developing and emerging markets. The introduction of blockchain technology has enabled the use of cryptocurrencies which facilitate cross-border transactions. This provides a solution to the variations in currencies which have made it difficult for people in different African countries to transact with each other. The innovation allows people to transact without the need for an intermediary which makes blockchain a trusted solution that could potentially solve the huge problem of corruption on the African continent.

According to the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa, adoption of blockchain technologies suggests many prospects for uses that could disrupt entire sectors of the economy. The technology is seen as particularly attractive to traditional financial institutions and entrepreneurs because it makes financial services available to more Africans and reduces counterparty risk. For example, in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, traditional banking institutions invest heavily and collaborate to develop blockchain technology and explore its new possible implementations.

Some applications using blockchain technology being developed on the continent include online payment systems for fast growing e-commerce across the region. Google Trendscurrently shows that global searches for the word “bitcoin” are the highest in African countries particularly Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s 2019 “Global Digital Yearbook,” South Africa is home to the highest percentage of internet users who say they own cryptocurrency.

Also Read: Lola A. Åkerström: Award-winning Travel Photographer of African Descent Exploring The World Through The Lens

Furthermore, data from a GlobalWebIndex survey conducted during the second and third quarters of last year points to nearly 11 percent of South African internet users owning some form of cryptocurrency. This compares to the worldwide average of 5.5 percent of internet users holding cryptocurrency. The U.S. comes in just below that, at 5.3 percent.

Another report from Citibank found that South Africa took the sixth place globally for the highest amount of bitcoin holders per capita, Kenya came in the fifth and Nigeria came in third, therefore confirming the high popularity of digital currency use. According to a report by Global Risk Insights, the most important factors that have influenced the development of Africa’s blockchain markets include its large informal sector.

“Implementing new technology can be disruptive which often invites resistance. To achieve user adoption is not simply a matter of educating users on how to use new technologies but rather gaining buy-in and commitment. That’s what United Africa Blockchain Association is striving to achieve with these events,” said UABA’s research director and founder of Proudly Associated – a company that advises international blockchain companies developing technologies which have use cases focused on emerging economy development, particularly in Africa.

The Bitcoin 2020 Party which is to be held on the 31st of January in Cape Town will be the first event on the UABA’s 2020 events calendar. The events promote uptake of blockchain-based products and services by boosting brand visibility for blockchain businesses and expanding ecosystem participation for various blockchain-based projects.

“The Bitcoin 2020 Party will be a celebration of our continued efforts to bring awareness to blockchain and cryptocurrencies by bringing together tech communities and digital entrepreneurs to share insights on some of the developments in the space,” said Grey Jabesi, UABA’s director of marketing and host of Africa’s top-rated technology podcast The Grey Ave Podcast.

The future looks bright for blockchain in Africa and many global companies have shown their support of different educational initiatives around the technologies including æternity is a new blockchain technology, designed to deliver unmatched efficiency, transparent governance and global scalability.

Zcoin, a decentralized and open source currency that provides financial privacy along with OVEX cryptocurrency exchange platform will also be supporting the event.

Licensed cryptocurrency casino and sportsbook Playbetr is also supporting the event and hopes to bring some fun and excitement to the celebrations by catering to the crowds interested in crypto-powered gaming development using blockchain technology.

Divi Project will also be backing the initiative as their mission is to make crypto easy for people on the continent to understand and get involved with. 

Through their training program, UABA aims to educate 1 million people across the African continent about the impact of blockchain technology. “Our training & mentorship programs enable students to learn about how blockchains work as an enterprise solution. Other initiatives we run include diversity and inclusion, open finance, and digital asset management working groups,” said UABA’s chairperson, Yaliwe Soko.

The association’s regular events attract thousands of tech enthusiasts and introduce members’ blockchain projects to the masses. The organization is actively creating solutions and solving the problems that communities across Africa are facing. Their outreach programs include active social community building, conferences, seminars, workshops, training courses and hackathons.

Get your FREE ticket to the Bitcoin 2020 Blockbuster Bash here. Contact UABA to discuss your membership options and sponsorship opportunities: yaliwe@uaba.io

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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