How to unlock Blockchain and AI in Africa

Afrobytes Event Series London 2018

Panel discussions on how to unlock Blockchain and AI in Africa was held by Afrobytes in London to envisage how to tackle the challenges.

The Afrobytes Series London event held on Thursday 6th December evening at Wayra UK,  London. It was held with the support of Ecosystem partners to connect the African Tech community. Organised by Afrobytes co-Founders Ammin Youssouf and Haweya Mohamed


« How blockchain can help to tackle Africa’s challenges »
How to unlock blockchain in AfricaPanel (L -R)

Moderator: Ammin Youssouf
CEO, Afrobytes @Ammin_Youssouf
Quan Le
Founder/CEO Binkabi @binkabi_io
Negin Baradari
Partnerships Manager, Cryptomize @beginwithnegin
Nicolas Cantu
Co-Founder Chain Accelerator @ChainAcc



Panel Background
1. Cryptomize is a blockchain startup that uses an AI backed cryptocurrency mining system, that leverages off tech hardware assets to generate passive income for signups.
2. ChainAccelerator is a blockchain technology accelerator based at StationF, Paris. They are involved in Blockchain activities applied to African Markets, i.e Cameroun, Mali, Congo.
3. Binkabi is building a decentralised commodity trading network based on blockchain technology, with a focus on emerging markets in Africa & Vietnam.

Panel Discussion
1. Blockchain application can address the area of funding projects which can be financed on a communal basis. e.g. Unicef Australia has turned to cryptocurrency mining for fundraising [ZDNet].
2. One of the main pulls of blockchain technology in Africa is the benefit from streamlining of supply-chain processes such as agriculture and energy.
3. Binkabi uses blockchain technology and works with SMEs and Aggregators to address payment issues for farmers. i.e. commodity trading on blockchain.
4. Important blockchain value proposition is use as public ledger and smart contracts, so can be used for securitization of commodities and supply chain origination.
5. The future trend would be for mobile money transfers built into the ecosystem which would enable a higher volume of money transactions.



« Where are the Use cases? »


Moderator: Haweya Mohamed
MD, Afrobytes @HaweyaM
Jerome Grilleres
General Manager, VeChain Europe @Vechain1
Maxime Bayen
Insights Director, Ecosystem Accelerator @GSMA
Rob Stanley
Head Of Data @wefarm
Bereket Amsalu
Country Manager @IBEX_Frontier


Panel Background
1. Ibex Frontier is an investment & Route to Ethiopian Market consultancy firm.  Sellside and Buy side Investment Advisory, Deal Sourcing, Market Research.
2. Vechain is a Product ID Management solution on Blockchain A unique ID for every product, combining blockchain and encrypted ID.
3. We Farm is the world’s largest farmer-to-farmer digital network, with over 2 Million subscribers.
4. GSMA unites the mobile industry on the African continent to increase the socio-economic impact of mobile.

Panel Discussion
1. GSMA has got emerging use cases around machine learning through #startups they are funding, like SolarWorks and Optimetriks, to drive social economic impact in Africa.
2. On AI the success story of Ethiopia based @iCog_Labs behind the brain system of @RealSophiaRobot was discussed. Its @IcogSolveit is now generating thousands of AI experts in Africa along with its YENATU AI powered education drive.
3. Panelists were in agreement was that AI terminology was easily misused and the real significance was Machine Learning, as the fundamental building block.
4. Real application, in use, for AI has been for Luxury goods, i.e. diamonds, Cashmere etc. where the source of goods need to be verified by blockchain ledger. Examples given of Carrefour and Walmart who have blockchain requirements for their Tier1 suppliers.
5. Another focus would be ‘Fairtrade’ organisations, across sectors, for the supply-chain.
6. We Farm has applied machine learning to support use of native languages, i.e. swahili for their peer2peer farmer network. This involves abtraction, detection and computational algorithms.
7. GSMA has runs a startup incubator in Africa and experience was that social enterprise was core sector, basically using machine learning while commercial case use is not proven. Also had analysis to show that only 1% of (world) AI startups are in Africa.
8. Fintech companies in Africa are using machine learning for credit scores, by using data from social media, telco data etc. This applies to micro -sector and unbanked.
9. AI, Ml are not stan-alone and would need to be integrated into the mobile money banking system for real gains. Recent concrete step was collaboration between Telco operators, MTN and Orange, to have a common portal and open their API’s.


« Africa, the land of cryptocurrency opportunities »


Moderator: Andrew Fassnidge
Founder of @AppsAfrica
Giselle Frederick
Founder and CEO, Zingr UK @zingr_app
Stephane Drai
Co-founder of Okey Money Africa @StephaneDrai




Panel Background
1. is a pan-African media company focused on promoting and connecting the  African tech industry. The AppsAfrica Innovation Awards is held annually across Africa.
2. Zingr is a FinTech startup built on blockchain which provides solutions to the  unbanked. The Zingr app makes online and peer-to-peer payments seamless, fast and secure.
3. Okey Money is a mobile and bank-free digital account for West and Central African  populations. Okey Money conquers Africa with a single digital financial service.


Panel Discussion
1. With regards to financial inter-mediation issues, Africans take a pragmatic and progressive approach which has seen the adoption of mobile money and token cryptocurrency. i.e. Foremost in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa.
2. Cryptocurrency will be an important element for financial inclusion with use in the remittances sector.
3. In Africa there is the issue of foreign exchange transactions costs, i.e. between CFA and Euro, on trading platforms which incur high overheads hence tokenisation would reduce costs.
4. The best use cases will come form implementation in micro-financing with beneficial social impact.
5. However cryptocurrency adoption will also need to work with in the financial ecosytem. Use case in S. Africa has seen adoption of bitcoin for tuition fees payment.
6. Real issues (drawbacks) are poor iternet connectivity and high power resources needed for mining.