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Blockchain-based Innovations Embraced and Celebrated at Crypto Fest in South Africa

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CryptoFest 2019, a one-day event recently held in Cape Town by Bitcoin Events (Pty) Ltd which also runs the popular Blockchain Africa Conference,was a non-traditional exhibition style event. The theme was “Immersive, Interactive, Innovative” and in true fashion, the event unfolded as such.

The ground-breaking festival was engaging, thought-provoking and provided quality content on three stages to a diverse audience which included blockchain industry veterans, new entrants and attendees who were simply interested in learning more about the burgeoning blockchain and crypto sector.

The laid-back atmosphere at the vibrant Shimmy Beach Club in Cape Town where Crypto Fest took place, with it’s picturesque backdrop of the ocean, created the perfect festival setting. Attendees were well-catered for and drinks flowed along with the stimulating conversations around the sometime controversial subjects of cryptocurrencies and blockchain tech.

It was a well-balanced mix of business and networking. There was plenty of meaningful discussion and debate on how best to accelerate global adoption of cryptocurrencies. The Bitcoin Events team’s vision to bring cryptocurrencies to life through immersive activities and a showcase of real-world applications to bring awareness was fully realised at this stunning event.

The festival presented engagement opportunities through lively crypto debates, including a Bitcoin vs Gold debate which was moderated by podcaster Grey Jabesi, a Director of Marketing and Communications at the United Africa Blockchain Association. The speakers at the event were lively and the line-up included some captivating appearances by the likes of Rocelo Lopes,CEO of Stratum and representatives from Huobi, SA Crypto, and BitGive Foundation among many others.

Sponsors of the successful event included AltCoin Trader, Luno IG, Okex, and Sun Exchange. “There was a lot of interaction and activity – crypto debates and educational dialogue around blockchain and cryptocurrencies,” said Richard de Sousa of AltCoin Trader. “The event was the first and a great success, we hope to be part of the next,” he added.

Other exciting elements to the festival format included the crypto games, giveawaysand fun competitions which were part of the event. Attendees could utilize augmented reality games that rely on geolocation to manipulate physical reality with tech-discoverable crypto. People could get airdrops of Ripple tokens courtesy of Xago and Bitcoin airdropped at the event by Bitdropgo. Working with Heath Muchena of Proudly Associated, a company that advises international blockchain companies developing technologies which have use cases focused on emerging economy development, particularly in Africa, Bitdropgo was able to bring some live gaming elements to the event.

Also Read Lillian Barnard: Tech Enthusiast And First Female Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa

“We see Africa as a growth market with massive potential for adoption of products and solutions that integrate both blockchain and AR technologies. Our unique interactive marketing model is an ideal fit for consumers on the continent who are largely mobile-centric, and businesses that are willing to explore new innovations and embrace new technologies more readily,” said Jonathan Eagleton, CEO of Bitdropgo. Attendees of Bitcoin Events hosted Crypto Fest could also download wallets such as the Centbee app and receive free Bitcoin.

The festival ended with an after party which was a highlight all on its own. Entrepreneurs, crypto-enthusiasts, educators and learners alike mingled and connected. What was most fascinating about the general sentiment around CryptoFest was the fact that much of the dialogue that could be heard around the event was around the potential that blockchain hasin playing a major role in the technological and economic transformation needed to make Africa a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.

 

 

 

 

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South Africa’s first ever blockchain-based property register pilot

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The pilot study area consists of almost 1 000 properties located in four sites in Makhaza, Khayelitsha

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 6, 2019- The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), research consultancy 71point4 and Seso Global have partnered to develop South Africa’s first blockchain-based property register. The pilot study area consists of almost 1 000 properties located in four sites in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. All the properties are Government subsidised properties that have not yet been registered on Deeds Registry.

According to Daniel Bloch, the CEO of Seso Global, a blockchain property registry company, this will be the first working example of a blockchain-based property registry in South Africa. Aside from creating an immutable record of who owns which house, the Seso platform facilitates and records transactions such as sales and transfers out of deceased estates and integrates with third parties who facilitate transactions, including mortgage lenders. “For the time being, property owners will record these transactions at the Transaction Support Centre, a walk-in housing advice office created by CAHF and 71point4 located in the area. But over time, we will record transactions through the Seso app” says Bloch.

The benefit of the blockchain solution is that it allows the data to be stored in a decentralised, secure database that can be updated without any loss of historic data. This means there is a secure, back-to-back record of all transactions that is completely tamper-poof. Eventually the vision would be to integrate this record into the Deeds Registry when other impediments to transfer have been removed.

South Africa has a serious titling problem. According to Kecia Rust, the CEO of CAHF, the government has built over three million RDP houses since democracy. But CAHF’s analysis of deeds office data indicates that only 1.9 million of these properties have been registered. The National Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (NDHSWS) estimates that the title deed backlog for RDP properties built prior to 2014 currently stands at 511 752. These properties were given to beneficiaries, but no title deeds were registered and handed over. At the same time, there is a backlog of 351 470 title deeds on newer properties.

Registering these properties so long after they were built and handed over to subsidy beneficiaries is an administratively complex task. In some cases, original subsidy beneficiaries are no longer living in the properties. Some beneficiaries might have passed away, some might have tenants in their properties while others have sold their houses informally.

“To create a register of property owners we first had to go door to door to find out who lives in each property and to establish how they came to be there” says Melzer, founder and lead consultant at 71point4. “We hired a team of 17 enumerators and trained them to collect information and capture supporting documents. Thankfully we can leverage smart phone to collect the data, but it still requires a significant effort. It took us two months to cover these areas.”

But the effort is well worth it. Properties in the area sell for over R200 000 informally – and would sell for more if they were listed on a trusted registry and were ‘bankable’. This would enable buyers to obtain mortgage finance and create affordability. Without access to mortgages, buyers have to pay cash for a house, or use an expensive unsecured loan. There are also significant benefits to the City of Cape Town of being able to access an accurate and up-to-date record of property ownership. Without it, the City cannot collect revenue from households in the area who are not indigent nor can City departments facilitate building plan approvals.

Next steps

In many cases in the pilot areas, the original beneficiary is still living in the property. “We hope that these properties can be registered in the deeds registry within a few months, and we are working closely with the City of Cape Town to facilitate that” says Melzer. “Where the beneficiary no longer lives in the property, we are in the process of tracing the beneficiary to confirm information we have gathered on who owns the property. We will also be working closely with the City on a resolution process where ownership is disputed.”



It will take some time before all the required information has been collected and validated. It will also take time for validated properties to be registered on the deeds registry.  In the meantime, we will enable property owners and occupants to keep those records up to date.

“We will also be using Seso’s platform to manage other client service requests that come to the Transaction Support Centre from all over Cape Town” says Rust. “These include helping clients to regularise informal sales and wind up deceased estates. Going forward, as the country moves towards an electronic deeds registry, we hope the lessons we have learned will provide valuable evidence to inform the development of accessible, secure, affordable and efficient mechanisms to facilitate property market transactions. This is important across the market, but particularly in entry level segments of the market where existing mechanisms are simply too costly”.

CAHF, Seso Global and 71point4 have a working agreement to extend this pilot into other areas and use cases. There are hundreds of thousands of RDP properties around the country where no primary transfer has taken place. In addition, in many areas where title deeds were issued, property owners have transacted informally, which means there is no longer an accurate record of ownership at the deeds registry. Blockchain-based solutions can help there too.

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

Blockchain can also enable households who live in informal settlements and rural areas to record and maintain land records and secure their rights. “We are very pleased with the pilot results. We think the solution we have developed is scalable, and replicable” says Bloch. That does not mean it is easy but, says Melzer “blockchain technology together the potential value we can unlock makes it worthwhile”.

Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF).

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Orange confirms its ambition to achieve digital inclusion for all, opens its second Orange Digital Center in Dakar

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Following on from Tunisia, Senegal will be home to the second Orange Digital Center in Africa and the Middle East

DAKAR, Senegal, October 24, 2019 – Today, in Dakar, Senegal, Orange is inaugurating its new concept of a place entirely dedicated to innovation, an “Orange Digital Center”. Several personalities attended the launch, including: Ms Ndèye Tické Ndiaye Diop, Minister for the Digital Economy and Telecommunications; Mr Dame Diop, Minister for Employment, Professional Training and Craftsmanship; Mr Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Africa and Middle-East; Ms Christine Albanel, Head of CSR, Diversity, Partnerships and Philanthropy for Orange, Deputy Chair of the Orange Foundation and former Minister; and Mr Sékou Dramé, CEO of Sonatel.

Following on from Tunisia, Senegal will be home to the second Orange Digital Center in Africa and the Middle East. With a surface area of 2,000 m² on six floors, the Orange Digital Center in Dakar will be the first of its kind in West Africa. Working as a network, these places allow experiences and expertise to be shared between countries and offer a simple and inclusive approach to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and to support the local digital ecosystem.

The purpose of the Orange Digital Centers is to bring together several strategic programmes under the same roof: coding school, Solidarity FabLab, Orange Fab and Orange Digital Ventures Africa, the Group’s investment fund. All of the programmes provided are free-of-charge and include digital training for young people, startup acceleration, and guidance for project owners and investment in these projects.

Other centers are expected to open by the end of the year in Jordan,Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire, with yet more in 2020 in Morocco and Egypt. Ultimately, similar organisations will be deployed in all the countries within Orange’s footprint in Africa and the Middle-East as well as in Europe.

Also Read: The Africa Digital Entrepreneurship Event Live in Johannesburg

“I am very proud to open the second Orange Digital Center in Dakar, after the one in Tunis. As the main contributor to the digital ecosystem in Senegal, Sonatel supports the emergence of a creative and flourishing ecosystem that provides digital players with the opportunity to imagine ways to create and prosper. These new spaces are dedicated not only to students, young people with and without diplomas and young people changing career, but also to entrepreneurs reflecting the ambition to promote a strong and innovative digital economy for the country’s socio-economic development”, explains Sékou Dramé, CEO of Sonatel.

“We are working in close collaboration with all the stakeholders, including governments and academics, to strengthen the employability of young Africans and to encourage them to run businesses and to innovate in their countries. Our ambition is to deploy this initiative outside Africa, from the south to the north, by opening Orange Digital Centers in France and Europe. For the moment, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan and Cameroon will follow in the next few months and in 2020 Morocco and Egypt then all the countries in the Africa and Middle-East zone will have their own Orange Digital Center” adds Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Africa and the Middle East.

Christine Albanel meanwhile states: “The Orange Foundation’s mission, in the countries where it operates, is to provide everyone with a chance by leveraging digital technology. The Orange Digital Center in Dakar illustrates our ambition to make digital inclusion the key focus of our social commitment. The Solidarity FabLab and the coding school, which are part of the Foundation’s and CSR’s inclusion programmes will enable many young people to develop new digital skills and will set them on the course to employment.”

Orange is present in 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East where it had 123 million customers on 30 June 2019. With sales revenue of €5.2 billion in 2018, this area is a strategic priority for the Group. Orange Money, its mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer is available in 17 countries and has 45 million customers. Orange, a multi-service operator, benchmark partner of the digital transformation, provides its expertise to support the development of new digital services in Africa and the Middle East.

Orange

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KnowBe4 Africa goes continental with Cyber Security Africa

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KnowBe4 Africa aims to make access to its cybersecurity awareness training platform easier for African businesses through CS Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 21, 2019- KnowBe4 Africa is proud to announce that we are partnering with Cyber Security Africa as our African distributor. KnowBe4 Africa aims to make access to its cybersecurity awareness training platform easier for African businesses through CS Africa and offer a necessary solution to the threat of cybercrime in growing economies.

At the recent World Economic Forum in Cape Town, African business owners flagged cybersecurity as the biggest threat to a successful operation, with 94% of companies in Africa and the Middle East experiencing a cyberattack in the past year.

Stronger together 

The distribution agreement between KnowBe4 Africa and Cyber Security Africa will allow for relationship building as well as provide local support on the ground for channel partners and end users. Considering the rapid rate of digital transformation in African countries, it’s vital that employees develop a security culture that will benefit them both personally and professionally.

Cyber Security Africa was the top choice as a continental distributor and has quickly established itself as an industry-leading Value-Added Distributor with a single-minded focus – the mitigation of information security risk for their clients. They focus their attention on niche, generally complex and certainly relevant security solutions that can utilized by organisations of all sizes and sectors. Lead by Martin Britz, Cyber Security Africa prides itself on being small enough to remain agile and large enough to apply a dedicated approach to each client experience.

For this new venture, Martin is assisting in the North and Central African regions. Gayle Britz will serve as the KnowBe4 champion and care for the SADC region. She guides a highly experienced team that includes Femi Ibine in West Africa, Susan Ndungu and Gladys in East Africa along with Andrew Ajuchi in Nigeria. Together, the Cyber Security Africa team will be able to provide support to business in close to 20 countries across the continent.

Cyber Security Africa founder, Martin Britz, believes great things are on the horizon for the fledgling partnership. “What sets us apart from our competitors is our keen understanding of this ever-evolving cybersecurity industry, with all its technologies, innovations, threats and solutions, positions us as “future-proof” to clients, while maintaining availability to attend to their more immediate needs. The offering from KnowBe4 Africa is unique and it’s exciting to be able to offer local training content that will have big benefits for African businesses.”

Also Read The Africa Digital Entrepreneurship Event Live in Johannesburg

Transforming security culture 

At the heart of this partnership is an authentic desire to empower and protect the greatest assets of any business: its people. Both KnowBe4 Africa and Cyber Security Africa focus on minimizing cyber risk for clients by educating their employees on how to spot threats like phishing, social engineering and training them with general information security practices. This fortifies the clients’ cybersecurity posture, saving them time and money while also drastically reducing the risk of falling prey to a cyberattack.

Anna Collard, managing director of KnowBe4 Africa firmly believes in securing a human firewall and creating a culture of security awareness in the digital age. “The human factor has become very important to the security of the organisation. People need to understand that if they use technology, they have to be cognisant of the risks. Organisations can support this understanding by investing in training that’s relevant, targeted and memorable. Training that can sustainably transform the company’s security culture.”

Whether it’s an SME, a healthcare institution or even a manufacturing business, there’s no doubt that all organisations will come to understand the importance of security awareness training. We certainly know that Africa is ready to make smarter security decisions, every day.

 

 

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