When we think about Africa, our minds often flood with images of hunger, hardship, disease, natural disasters, and maybe even civil war. We don’t often consider the strength of its people or their ability to lift themselves out of poverty. So while it may not seem like the most natural place to lead the world into the fourth industrial revolution, Africa could actually see the fastest overall rate of blockchain growth.
Arikana Chihombori-Quao is a doctor who was appointed to lead the continent’s diplomatic relations with the U.S. in 2016. In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, she said, “What bothers me is the realization that the richest continent on Earth is the poorest… Things are being stolen out of Africa, and we need to stop the drain.”
Indeed, it’s a long-known fact that developed countries have a habit of taking what they want from softer targets, draining oil, minerals, crops, and other resources at will. The supply chain, a seething pit of corruption, is full of backhanders and payoffs at every turn. Even when resources are compensated for, the money usually ends up in the same select pairs of hands.
So, what can blockchain tech do for this struggling continent, and how can its adoption bridge the divide between rich and poor?
Fixing the Agricultural Model
Block Commodities, a subsidiary of GMEX, is creating a token-based ecosystem that will enable sub-Saharan farmers to make profits on their surplus crops and use them in the wider ecosystem. They will be compensated in FACES tokens (Feed Africa Commodities Eco-System) built using technology from OST, a company that allows branded tokens to be built upon open, scalable and cryptographically auditable side blockchains.
This means that African farmers will no longer have to allow surplus crops to go to waste, as they will be able to trade them or request what they need from other farmers. They will also be able to deal with each other directly, cutting out the middlemen and ensuring transparent transactions.
In reclaiming this value lost in African agricultural and extractive industries by implementing a sufficient supply and distribution system, sub-Saharan African farmers can increase productivity and secure higher profits for their crops. They can also become significant agricultural producers on a global stage.
Granting Access to Education and Medicine
Using OST’s technology, Block Commodities will build an ecosystem comprised of multiple e-commerce partners. It will feature not only local vendors and service providers but key medical and educational institutions as well.
FACES tokens can then be redeemed for vital services when people need them, providing masses of underprivileged individuals with the care they need to help prevent the spread of disease and improve life expectancy, which is just 53.05 in Nigeria.
With mobile technology and cryptocurrency, there is no need for banks to manage transactions, and people can be rewarded directly for their sales. Africa has certainly proven its keenness to adopt new technology, with its rates of mobile payments among the world’s highest.
OST CEO Jason Goldberg says, “I believe there is a good chance Africa will soon lead the trend of trustless, and even bankless, economies. The dawn of Blockchain will enable sub-Saharan countries, and in particular, its farming communities, to exchange cryptocurrencies earned by making profits on surplus crops for goods and services like home appliances and healthcare.”
“You probably get a lot more done, and for a lot less costs, if you can cut out the countless intermediaries,” Goldberg states. “Think of donations reaching beneficiaries within seconds at a penny’s cost, or smart contracts with near-immediate payout to ensure smallholder farmers against natural disasters. The possibilities for Africa are endless.”
Africa doesn’t want to live on handouts. “We are very capable [of taking] care of ourselves,” Chihombori-Quao says. And it has no intention of being the world’s charity case when its fundamental problems are imposed from the outside. With the right implementation and the will, Africa could be the fastest grower in the blockchain space.