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Ghana May Launch National Digital Currency in Near Future

  • Ghana central bank will lead a pilot of a national blockchain-based digital currency likened to a stablecoin
  • Ghana recorded 1.4 billion Mobile Money transactions in 2018, with e-payments booming in the country

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Addison, has announced that the Central Bank and key stakeholders are piloting a digital currency in a sandbox environment, and may release a national digital currency called the e-cedi in the near future. This puts Ghana among a growing list of countries that have announced their interest in launching a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), including China, United States, Marshall Islands, Turkey, and Iran, among others.

Addison commented: “The digital age provides enormous potential for the financial sector to re-orient itself to satisfy the new consumer and business demands for financial services”.

As with other CBDCs, Ghana’s digital currency would likely use blockchain technology and be similar to a stablecoin, with citizens being able to exchange e-cedi for regular fiat cedi. The benefit of blockchain technology is that it provides cryptographic security, everything can be tracked from a single distributed ledger which increases trust in the system, and transactions are instant. Also, a permissioned blockchain can be used by the government to stay in control of the flow of digital currency.

Ghana has already seen growth in the electronic payments sector, with a nationwide service called Mobile Money seeing a volume increase from 982 million transactions in 2017 to 1.4 billion transactions in 2018.

 

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Could Land Registry on Blockchain End Ownership Dispute Woes?

Could Land Registry on Blockchain End Ownership Dispute Woes?

In today’s world, nothing screams louder about transparency, trust, and immutability than the blockchain. Perhaps these qualities may now be considered more of a cliché on the internet, they still hold true when it comes to using the technology as irrefutable proof of ownership.

The blockchain is now an inspiring landmark in estate management, as it is increasingly being adopted as a platform for land registry, property ownership records, as well as a secure, trusted property sales and management system, thereby eliminating distrust flaws in the sector.

A great number of blockchain startups are addressing one of the direst situations in estate management – land disputes. Broadly speaking, the lack of proper deed-titling afflicts a host of physical asset classes such as lands, houses, and cars – a problem thought to be worth about USD 20 trillion globally. The good news is with blockchain-enabled registry hope could be restored to billions of people whose property may at some point become casualties of bad socio-economic infrastructure.

Although many government policies and institutions such as the United Nations have made attempts to provide lasting solutions to stem the tides of corruption and disputes in land claims, the fact of the matter remains: policies are instituted by humans and they can thwart or manipulate them for personal advantages. This makes such systems rather unreliable despite sunken huge investments.

A developing world perversion

For most people living in developing countries, proof of land ownership can be a real pain, as these geographical locations are continuously taunted by poor economic conditions, and the land registry sector isn’t left out. Numerous cases of land disputes involving ownership claims with only word-of-mouth historical accounts to back them have led to several social degradative vices as well as continuous tension on land acquisition and property security.

Just some days back, a land-related crises led to the deaths of nine people in India, when a claim to a deed purchased two years ago resulted into a shootout.

Sonbhadra: Casualties reported after firing between two groups over a land dispute in Ghorawal today; District Magistrate Ankit Kumar Agarwal says, “We can’t tell exact numbers as of now. 9 persons brought to District Hospital. Some are injured & some are dead.” pic.twitter.com/QDeL1QylFK

— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 17, 2019

In India, land disputes are mostly attributed to conflicting laws and with the majority of cases ending up in court:

“Land disputes account for the largest set of cases in Indian courts – 25% of all cases decided by the Supreme Court involved land disputes, of which 30% were related to acquisition; and surveys suggest that 66% of all civil cases in India are related to land or property disputes.”

This brings to question whether algorithmic governance – where code is law – could play a significant role in reducing the number of land-disputes that make it to court, with technologies such as smart contracts easing trades among parties, thereby instituting transparency and disintermediation of trust. However, for the already existing cases of land disputes, without prior legal documents backing up claims, judgments are more likely to be based on emotion rather than fact and truth.

In general, systemic fault-lines within government structures make it rather impossible to implement efficient land administration. In other words, “many constitutive and regulative institutions suffer from massive functional deficits” and, therefore, constitute fundamental cracks to theoretically foolproof land administration policies. And that’s just a part of the problem – policies lacking sufficient empirical infrastructures.

Unwitting victims

About a year ago, a report by Reuters reflects the dire situation of land ownership in Kenya, where;

“Two-thirds of Kenya’s land is customarily owned by communities without formal title deeds, making it easy for corrupt individuals to sell or lease the land without the communities’ knowledge.”

A Kenyan victim of double ownership of a piece of land Joseph Njuguna shared his story with Reuters of how he had been displaced of his alleged rights to a piece of land he purchased more than half a decade back and was suddenly overthrown by another citizen whose claim wasn’t backed either by any document. He told the news outlet:

“I asked for the title and he couldn’t produce it. But he still claimed the plot was his.”

Another story told by Humphrey Kitala a Kenyan who bought half an acre for USD 30,000 through what seemed to be a legitimate estate management agency, only to discover a month later that he was a victim of double ownership – with title deeds on both ends.

In Ghana, the situation might be worse. It was reportedly disclosed by the land commission that “more than 80% of landowners lack title 60 years after independence”, with land ownership loosely held by oral agreements.

In a more elaborate view, with two-thirds of lands in Africa owned communally, the exposure to land-related fraud is inevitable as a cross-section of the population is void of title deeds. And in the case where one exists, authenticity is an accompanying problem in most cases.

In other countries like Brazil where disparate history books exist for land registry and the situation is further complicated with about 3,400 private firms who check and register land ownership, further plunging the hideous system into a downward spiral of double allocation.

Blockchain land registry to dissolve land disputes

Situations such as those of Njuguna and Humphrey as well as the “corrupt cartels [who] often make entire files disappear so that they can illegally acquire and transfer lucrative plots, from public forests to school playgrounds” have inspired startups and real estate firms like Land Layby to adopt blockchain technology to seamlessly address the fraudulent acts involved in land registry.

In Ghana, Bitland seems to be doing a pretty good job in confronting the woes of land disputes and aims to “unlock trillions of dollars in locked capital”.

In June, Cyrela Brazil Realty, a giant in the real estate business in the country opted for blockchain-based land registry. Meanwhile, In Georgia, developments towards blockchain-based land registry have been ongoing for a while now, and it seems the adopters tout the abilities of the blockchain to allow them to cut the cost of property rights registration, aid in real-time auditing of the registry, as well as add a layer of security to the registry data.

With other parts of the world explore opportunities of blockchain-based land registry at a fast pace, it only seems logical for developing nations of the world to adopt what works when it comes to land registry, and there’s no denying the fact that blockchain is position to revolutionize the estate industry with credibility based on its immutability and trust infrastructure. Sometime last year, the UK’s HM Land Registry launched a project based on the distributed ledger technology to revolutionize the process of land registration in the company, to hopefully gain faster, simpler and cheaper land registration process.

Having blockchain-based solution isn’t enough, and alone it becomes inoperable. It requires adoption, integration and adequate understanding of the working parts.

 

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Accra and The Hague Universities Combine to Promote Blockchain in Ghana

Accra and The Hague Universities Combine to Promote Blockchain in Ghana

A partnership between a Ghanaian University and the Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) in the Netherlands has been forged with a view to accommodating a student exchange programme and further promote blockchain in the African nation.

The Accra Technical University (ATU) wants to accelerate it graduate programme in order to provide the industry with the necessary skills to fill its requirements, including advancing blockchain technology in the country.

A seminar organized by the two universities entitled ‘The Power of Blockchain’ took place in Accra this week in which the way forward was discussed. Dr Ernest Winful, the Dean of International Programmes at ATU, told the press that blockchain technology was becoming vital to conducting business in Ghana and therefore students needed new skills in order to embrace tech opportunities in the industry. He pointed out:

“The blockchain is coming like how the internet came and it is important to join the train to avoid any inconvenience it may cause by the blockchain technology in the future.”

An important feature of the collaboration between the universities will be an exchange programme allowing students in both Africa and Europe to learn at both education institutions; an essential inclusion for Ghanaian students due to Africa currently lagging behind Europe, Asia and the Americas in blockchain technology.

From the Dutch side, Rene Dondjio, a Lecturer at the THUAS, said that lecturers from the university situated in the Hague would travel to Ghana making three monthly trips to Accra to train students at ATU, also pointing out that blockchain was becoming a life-changing technology for many at both an individual and business level.

ATU pointed out that it was important that Africa didn’t get left behind as new technologies such as blockchain leaped forward elsewhere around the globe.

 

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Ghana Mulls Positive Crypto Legislation

Ghana Mulls Positive Crypto Legislation

There are indications in some cryptocurrency circles in Ghana that its Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may be prepared to release its stranglehold on the space, which currently doesn’t allow trading.

This would represent a major turnaround though, given that currently all businesses are banned from conducting cryptocurrency transactions in the African nation. This despite Paxful, the world’s leading cryptocurrency-marketplace, claiming that business is currently booming.

A Paxful report just last month indicated that both Nigeria and Ghana are propping up African transactions which are currently generating USD 64.3 million per month, putting the two countries alongside the world’s top 10 markets, such as the US and the UK.

The hope is that the SEC lifts the ban and creates an environment where legitimate companies are able to thrive without going underground. However, the regulators’ deputy director general Paul Abadio argues against the SEC’s case but hints at change:

“When you choose to go there, you are on your own. We have adopted a wide range of changes on it and we are still doing our research and gathering information, and we welcome any input that people might have to help us formulate a view on how we should deal with it in Ghana.”

A fact that the SEC is still formulating a view has given rise to local crypto analysts beginning to think a positive change for the industry in Ghana could be on the way. 2018 was very much a headache year for the Ghanaian SEC who claimed that many crypto-related businesses chose to “play around” with clients money having no intention of registering their services.

With many investigations still underway into companies who may have infringed Ghana’s financial regulations, it seems very much a “wish and hope” situation at present. However, other countries on the African continent are coming at cryptocurrency from a complete direction, such as Cameroon’s independent movement boosted by an ICO and its own cryptocurrency, the AmbaCoin.

 

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Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

As the Australian food industry passes through a rough period in 2018, blockchain endorsements in the French supply chain industry might offer some routes to recovery.

Perhaps the most significant impact of DLT has been on supply chain networks as companies discover a new took for offering customer satisfaction through a transparent and accountable transfer of goods across borders.

Both the US and Europe have locked into this in a big way with retail giants Walmart and French supermarket chain Carrefour both finding initial positivism in blockchain and its functionality. There, even the sacred turkey now travels to the Thanksgiving table via blockchain.

On the other side of the world, Australia is beginning to look at how its supply chains can be protected with the added security that DLT is providing elsewhere. The food industry there did not have a good year, exacerbated by the news that fruit contaminated by sewing needles were found in strawberry punnets in a supermarket chain, resulting in the potential loss to the industry of AUD 130m a year. Tons of unwanted fruit have been dumped due to the sudden unpopularity of supermarket fruit as a result and one customer was hospitalized.

Apart for the obvious repercussions for sales in Australia, the country has taken a double hit as the tampered Australian strawberries then landed on New Zealand’s supermarket shelves causing two retailers to put up a ban on buying strawberries from Australia.

Unsurprising then that supermarkets are now looking to blockchain with a little more immediate interest than previously. The Australian market needs to regain the trust of the public, something which can be achieved by careful monitoring of the supply chain from farm to supermarket shelves, something that was clearly breached in these incidents down under, albeit by an extreme case of mismanagement.

The French model employed by Carrefour demonstrates that DLT can offer simple solutions for producers, manufacturers, and buyers across supply chains. This system provides customers with a blockchain-based traceability program, currently limited to some poultry in the chain’s Auvergne stores. The system offers a record of the chickens’ life from egg to supermarket. Shoppers can use a smartphone to scan in a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field and farm to table.

 

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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Digital Currency Ecosystem in Africa Grows, But More Connectivity Needed

A new report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has outlined that Africa will need to invest more in internet connectivity in order to maintain the continent’s current pace of cryptocurrency adoption.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow as a result of the presence of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the African continent, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Owning and trading in cryptocurrencies is a trend on the rise in countries across the globe. The markets in the USA and Asia have typically gained media traction, while the phenomena in Africa is left largely uncovered. Moreover, a large number of recognized exchanges don’t offer services in Africa, whereas, some recognize the significant marketplace that includes many Africans who do not have access to formal bank accounts.

If Africa is to be the next boom as many experts are currently predicting, it will need to make major changes to its telecommunications infrastructure across the continent, as indicated by the ITU report. The report shows that to connect the majority of Africans to the internet will cost as much as $450 billion.

Currently, governments on the continent spend significantly less than the global average with most countries spending three times as much on connectivity. Low education levels and the high cost of internet capable devices have been cited as contributing factors to the current slow uptake of the internet in many areas of the continent.

The uptake of digital currency has been prolific in Africa over the past two years, with many countries taking on the advantages that currencies such as Bitcoin offer over local fiat currencies. Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have all shown a significant increase in crypto adoption.

Coindirect co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration. In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:

“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”

It is clear that this “infrastructure” depends on connectivity. ITU reveals that out of the 52 percent of the world’s population who remain unconnected to the internet, the majority of these live on the African continent.

One country is attempting to address this disparity. Rwanda has managed to achieve a 90 percent broadband spread with its nationwide rollout of optical fiber throughout a larger part of the country. The project began in 2009 in order to boost broadband services and attract foreign business investment.

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Nigeria to Launch State-Backed Blockchain Hub in African Crypto Surge

A new Nigerian blockchain hub is being launched by the government in conjunction with a UK blockchain firm.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow, enabled by the presence of a greater number of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the continent of Africa, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Google searches reveal that , Nigeria and South Africa are frantically searching online when it comes down to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. Many nationals fall foul of inflation and hyperinflation, resulting in weak and unstable financial systems.

Recently, countries such as Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and oil-rich Nigeria have all suffered, many of these countries with inflation rates well into the hundreds of percentages. In these situations, it is hardly surprising that the people look to a more stable form of a monetary solution in their daily lives.

Lady Victoria Walker, CEO of the United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation and UK based fintech entrepreneur feels that new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are essential factors in empowering African leaders to inject growth and financial inclusivity into their economies. She argues:

“Bitcoin is a reality. We have all major world governments scrambling to make sense of it and world leaders sharing their views on the currency. For the past 700 years, our world has relied on the European legacy banking system for means of payments and transactions. Bitcoin is definitely challenging the traditional way when it comes to the transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information.”

Nigeria is looking to this kind of future with its new Africa Blockchain Lab in the Kaduna area, designed to create blockchain growth through crypto solutions across the region. The state-backed blockchain hub project between KAD ICT Hub and the British crypto firm Coinfirm wants to stake its claim as a societal changer with latter’s AMLT network offering rewards to Nigerians reporting Cyber Crime and other illegal activity online.

The Africa Blockchain Lab, launched last week has promised to offer financial inclusion to many Nigerians who are excluded from the country’s financial system and also attract new startups as part of the country’s drive to support the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies in the continent.

As Lady Walker suggested, an understanding and deployment of bitcoin can kickstart the financial growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

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Live At The Kasbah: Richard Branston Hosts Marrakesh Blockchain Summit

British business entrepreneur and founder of Virgin is now to host a major blockchain summit at his home in Marrakesh, writes Forbes.

The summit is normally held at Branston’s personal offshore home on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. However, it was devastated by last year’s Category Five storms which tore through the island, destroying numerous private residences.

In view of this, an alternative location needed to be found for the high-profile conference, which was responsible for the forming of the Blockchain Alliance which now includes 36 government agencies and the Global Blockchain Business Council, with members from 35 countries.

This year, the founder of the annual event, investor Bill Tai, announced that the event would be held at Branston’s Kasbah Tamadot in Marrakesh, Morocco, with eminent guests Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Kenya cabinet secretary Joseph Mucheru, along with 30 speakers. Building blockchain in Africa is reported to be the central focus of this year’s conference.

Tai commented:

“The whole continent is a bit of an unknown to a lot of folks because they just don’t get much exposure to it, I think getting a lot of people together that are knowledgeable, with reach, and high profile, that collectively can form a view about what are the opportunities at hand can both serve philanthropic and commercial interests.”

Blockchain in Africa is developing slowly but surely. Ghana-based Bitland and Kenya-based Land Layby are working to use blockchain to create formally-recognized infrastructures for proving land ownership, and the technology is increasingly being used in logistics to track goods from growth to table. Many small businesses are getting much-needed support from NGOs and private companies integrating blockchain projects into a range of sectors across the continent.

Tai has his own project in mind which he says he is due to announce, called Barking Dog. The project is reportedly designed to help governments without land titling in place to use blockchain to assure citizens and governments of their rights to land and, once established, to tokenize the assets.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 90% of Africa’s land is “completely” undocumented and Tia maintains blockchain could become a major factor in effecting the necessary changes to the status quo.

 

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Bitcoin Tech Supporting and Educating Small Farmers Worldwide

Bitcoin’s underlying technology blockchain is beginning to have an impact in supporting farmers and smallholders around the world, writes the BBC.

The Olam Farming Information System (OFIS), not to be confused with the EU body The Organic Farming Information System (OFIS), is an organization which offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world.

With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

By using blockchain technology, OFIS collects the relevant data in order to recommend how individual farmers can increase their yields and track their products and trade online. A good illustration of how the project supports the small farmer selling such crops as cocoa, coffee, and rubber, while also often living at subsistence level, is Muhammed Adams, a cocoa farmer from a remote region of Ghana.

Adams from Sefwi Madina had been growing his crops in the same way for the past 25 years until he was able to tap into the OFIS system which has not only enabled him to triple his output but also helped to reduce his reliance on chemical pesticides.

Now, by using apps for text messaging and digital payments, smallholders are for the first time able to use banking services and microloans. Adams can now use the apps blockchain tech to deal directly with advisers, learning that chemicals aren’t the only solution to dealing with diseased crops.

As OFIS states on its website, support for such farmers has been exhaustive in the past as field staff have had to painstakingly collect data using pen and paper, limiting use and scalability, but not now with new mobile technology.

Christian Ferri, chief executive of BlockStar, a blockchain investment adviser, says “there are endless possibilities“, but the technologies required might be beyond the reach of some farmers, adding that “the good news is that I believe we will see the cost of these technologies decrease as adoption spreads”.

Blockchain-related technologies are not simply limited to farmers in developing countries. In the highly developed UK farming community, digital mobile technologies can support small farmers there too, such as Rowie Meers, who runs Purton House Organics, in Swindon discovered.

“Supermarkets are continuously driving prices down, causing many smaller farms to go out of business,” said Meers.

She is now linked directly to the farmers that supply her through mobile tech, thus achieving 70% of the retail price, twice the amount she would expect from supermarkets.

 

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