The CoinGeek.com crew traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, last week to cover the Transform Africa Summit’s Blockchain elements. Monday, May 7th marked the Summit’s Blockchain Workshop, an event taking place in Kigali’s Serena hotel with a mission of educating local students and entrepreneurs on blockchain technology.
“As you’ve seen and as much of the Bitcoin community has seen, our chief scientist Dr. Craig Wright and I have been on what I call the Bitcoin Cash Global Tour. We are trying to spread the message of the power of Bitcoin Cash to everyone and that includes developing territories and next generation countries like those in Africa, where we think Bitcoin Cash is going to be more massively adopted earlier than in Western Countries,” Nguyen told CoinGeek.com.
The pair learned of an opportunity to speak at Transform Africa while attending Deconomy in South Korea over a month ago. After presenting at Deconomy, they were approached by an organizer of the Blockchain Workshop.
“I love your vision for Bitcoin Cash, you need to bring it to Africa where it’s so needed,” Nguyen was told.
For Nguyen, the decision to travel to Kigali to participate in the Summit was a no-brainer. “In addition to Africa, Central/South America and the Philippines have a great need for financial inclusion to help the unbanked populations of the world and to provide stronger financial systems that are possible with crypto currencies…boom here we are,” he told CoinGeek.com
After a presentation, participating in a panel and delivering the event’s closing remarks, when asked about his experiences throughout the day, Nguyen had nothing but positive things to say.
“What’s great about the event we’re at today is it is a workshop run by an organization called K Lab which is trying to pre-incubate technology ventures,” he said.
“What I learned today is that Rwanda has a very young population, most of the population is under 35 and so there’s a lot of young, bright minds wanting to do new things, particularly in technology. So its been great to try and talk about Bitcoin Cash with people who want to launch blockchain or cryptocurrency ventures, explain to them why we think Bitcoin Cash is the public blockchain to do it on and most importantly help educate them,” he added.
nChain’s chief scientist, Dr. Craig Wright, was also one of the high-profile speakers present at the Blockchain Workshop. According to Dr. Wright, traveling to locations such as Rwanda to educate the population on blockchain and Bitcoin has a different meaning than when traveling to educate within the West.
“We’re in a country that doesn’t have banking to the extent that we do in the West. And we have people who could be less impoverished, could grow, could be more entrepreneurial and could expand and become something more than they are right now and we can do that because of Bitcoin Cash,” Dr. Wright shared.
“We have a place here that needs a payment system…here, its life or death in some places,” he added.
Like Nguyen, Dr. Wright was struck by the youthful audience at the Blockchain Workshop and believes Africa is a part of the world with so much potential due to its young population.
“We have a country full of young, up and coming people who are starting to learn, starting to develop, we have more youth here than anywhere else, really in the world. We have a very young country. And that’s going to matter in the next ten or twenty years. We’ve got an aging West. In Japan, they’re going to get to a stage where they have two retired people for every person working soon and that’s going to really change their economy,” he shared.
“Whereas here, there are lots and lots of people, very young, vibrant, ecosystem, economy and they are all anxious to learn how they can be part of the world of tech,” Dr. Wright added.
An example of how blockchain can improve lives in Africa comes in the form of digitizing records. In the case of Chamapesa, using blockchain to organize records in social services around the continent is the company’s primary focus.
“Our company basically tries to digitize the records of a lot of social services groups in Africa. And what they are doing right now is putting their records on manual paper records. And we feel that there is a lot that could be accomplished if these records were taken and digitized using elements of the blockchain technology,” Michael Kimani of Chamapesa told CoinGeek.com.
Kimani, who is based in Kenya, is doing his part to educate professionals and officials in a position of power on what blockchain technology can do in order to avoid unnecessary crack-downs.
“[Governments and regulators] really need to be educated because unfortunately they are in a position of power, so right now in Kenya, for example, we’ve had a lot of instances where blockchain companies have been shut down because of some of the work they were doing. And the way we are trying to address this situation is to get together regulators and governments and try to educate them and tell them there is something really powerful going on here, you might want to slow down on your knee-jerk reactions,” he said.
What many people don’t realize is blockchain technology has the potential to transform our world in so many ways in addition to powering cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin Cash. Blockchain Workshop speaker Sandra Ro of Global Blockchain Business Council pointed out blockchain’s role in utilizing data.
“When I think about what this technology has the potential to do its really around the fact that we’re living in an increasingly data-driven world. Winners in the data space of tomorrow are going to either be the source of data, the distributors of data or the people who provide analytics around the data and blockchain will be the infrastructure on which everything is built,” she told CoinGeek.com.
Ro, an American traveling the world to educate relevant parties on blockchain, emphasized the importance of attending events like Transform Africa Summit and networking with individuals who are eager exchange ideas and to learn.
“At the end of the day, blockchain is about community. I think that’s what’s driven a lot of people into this space, the tech is cool, but we’re all humans and this is about a human connectivity, facilitating lives through technology, so when I think about that, its important to get the word out, its actually important to meet people and everywhere I go around the world, its different—there’s this local flavor and everyone should have that. And its very exciting,” she said.
At the conclusion of the Blockchain Workshop, we spent some time with Rwanda-based Norbert Haguma, one of the bright minds behind the organization of the event. According to Haguma, there were two main messages behind the execution of Transform Africa’s Blockchain Workshop 2018.
“Number one is that Africans need to study blockchain, need to explore blockchain, we need to understand what its about. It has many promises, many applications, but we are not yet sure which ones work, which ones don’t, which ones apply to Africa and which ones do not apply to Africa,” he said.
“The second message is that Africa is trying to create what’s called a CFT, a continental free trade area, so we’re trying to create a continental free trade and I don’t think we’re going to be able to achieve that without some kind of blockchain solution,” Haguma added.