Blockchain projects from Africa
Blockchain technology is a disruptive force of epic proportions. Its disruptive nature is being felt in the areas of finance and economics as cryptocurrencies continue to make the limitations of fiat currencies obvious. Beyond cryptocurrencies, many interesting new applications of blockchain technology are springing up in shipping, real estate, Internet of Things, security and governance among others.
The more interesting feature of blockchain technology however goes beyond its disruption of traditional business models. The true genius of Blockchain technology lies in its ability to be an enabler of economic growth that transcends geopolitical and socioeconomic barriers. Blockchain technology presents an unprecedented opportunity for emerging economies to experience rapid transformation.
The biggest potential for blockchain technology will be realized in the emerging economies of the world – the same way that smartphones allowed emerging markets bypass fixed-line telephony to digital connectivity, blockchain will allow emerging markets to leapfrog over many inefficient legacy systems. This piece provides insight into three interesting Blockchain projects across the emerging markets landscape.

Spire Protocol

Spire is one of the most innovative blockchain projects focused on the emerging markets. Spire is a blockchain-based intellectual property (IP) platform that wants to leverage blockchain technology to protect entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators in emerging economies. Spire is promoting its blockchain revolution through its Spire (SPI) token and LOCI. LOCI is a search platform integrated with the blockchain to help inventors disclose patentable inventions and search if their ideas are novel even before they initiate the patenting and development process.
In developing economies, intellectual property rights are hardly recognized, not to mention being enforced. For one, the lack of a robust patent database makes it hard to know who owns what patent – the centralized nature of the existing patent offices also puts them at the risk of data breaches and outright manipulation. In the words of, Charlie Hulcher, Head of Technology at Spire “sadly, theft is rampant in emerging markets. And the targets aren’t just cash; they’re ideas, which can be even more valuable, especially to global corporations.”
Spire however, hopes to help inventors mark their proof of concepts with specific time and date cryptographically stored on the blockchain. Marking the proof of concept also serves as a public disclosure from which the inventor gets a 12-month grace period to file a patent or sell it on LOCI’s IP marketplace. It is still somewhat too early to know if Spire will push for an ICO or make its tokens available for trading on an exchange because the firm appears to be tight-lipped about its plans. Nonetheless, cryptocurrency investors might want to pay special attention to the Spire projects for opportunity to get in ahead of the crowd.

Workstation

Workstation is an interesting emerging markets company that might be on to something truly revolutionary in its potential to leverage blockchain to disrupt legacy systems. Workstation currently operates a coworking community in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and fastest growing economy. The firm believes that running a startup/business in emerging markets is hard and finding the ideal workspace shouldn’t add another layer of complexity to the ease of doing business.
Hence, Workstation provides innovators with a plug and play coworking model packed with world-class internet, tele conferencing, on-sit café, gym, Yoga & Meditation room, and a digital member network of about 3000 driven innovators who are committed to solving some of the biggest challenges plaguing emerging markets. The best part is that users get to own their workspace for a monthly fee as opposed to the traditional lease agreements that often requires business to pay at least a year’s worth of rent upfront.
Workstation is not exactly a blockchain-based company, but the firm is already making some strategic moves that suggests it might be pivoting towards a decentralized hub of sorts. To start with, three different job postings Crypto Jobs are advertising for blockchain professionals. The recurrent theme in the three job postings is that the client is “one of the leading providers of coworking spaces and shared offices in the emerging markets.” The job posting also reveals that the client is “currently developing a decentralized marketplace infrastructure to build an ecosystem that will serve the growing number of innovators who need access to the physical space…”
The job posting alone doesn’t account for much; but then, I observed that the domain Workstation token is parked. It is still too early to know if Workstation has plans to delve into the blockchain ecosystem; but it would be sure interesting to see how this hub for tech innovators can leverage blockchain technology to improve the ease of doing business in emerging markets.

Bitland

Owning real estate, starting with land is rife with too many systemic bureaucratic and corrupt process in emerging markets, and most especially in Africa. Real estate remains an undeniable store of value in developing economies but there’s never a shortage of legal battles resulting from double ownership of a single property. In some cases, the original owner sells the land to multiple buyers; in other instances, people falsify documents out of the blue to lay claim to another person’s property.
Bitland is an interesting blockchain project that wants to leverage blockchain technology to end corrupt practices in the ownership of real estate in Africa. Bitland allows individuals and groups to store land surveys and title deeds on the Blockchain to build a trail of permanent and auditable record for determining property ownership when disputes arise. The World Bank has observed that about 70% of the world’s population lack access to genuine land titles.

Ronny Boesing, CEO and founder of Danish cryptocurrency exchange CCEDK is optimistic about the prospects of Bitland, In his words, “Bringing clarity to land ownership rights will not only reduce corruption, but will also open up trillions of dollars in locked capital, since land that does not have a functional title cannot be used as capital. And, securing a mortgage to build or purchase homes is not possible.” Tokens of Bitland (CADASTRAL) are not currently being traded on exchanges and it is still somewhat hard to know if and when the token will become available again for trading. Nonetheless, the idea of decentralized land registers sounds like a step in the right direction to introducing transparency into land ownership in Africa.

Victor Alagbe has an insightful understanding of developing trends and an impressive ability to connect news stories to create a uniquely different narrative. He strongly believes that Blockchain technology is here to stay and he is committed to articulating the disruptive potential of this emergent technology across industries, markets, and economies.

You can connect with him on Twitter @Innovictor 

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