Breaking the ice on the resourcefulness of digital currency and use of blockchain applications, the first edition of World Blockchain Summit, organized by Trescon, was inaugurated on 22 March at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.
The summit commenced with an opening address by John Karanja, founder and consulting lead, BitHub Africa, on blockchain use cases for the African continent. In his keynote address, he educated the audience with his knowledge of network-centric protocols.
His company BitHub, the first bitcoin startup in Africa, is with a big banking partnership and license from reserve to exclusively use cryptocurrencies for remittances. He further addressed the audience on how blockchain technology can revolutionize Africa and liberate it from the fluctuating economy altogether.
Eagle An, co-founder and president of Bankorus, China, took the floor to present a forward-looking crypto-based private wealth management platform in his technical address saying, "In the next 5 years, China and US will be the biggest crypto markets in the world."
Following the keynote speech, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary to the government of Kenya, shared his insights on digital transformation and scaling blockchain applications for Africa. He enlightened the audience saying, "We are not in the business of acquiring platforms, but we are in the business of setting up policies. Blockchain technology is an opportunity for Africa to leapfrog its own problems. In 6 months of digitization of the lands registry, revenue jumped from 800M to 9B, this is without blockchain. With blockchain, cases of corruption will decline" He then summarised his speech by adding, "Kenya is the mother of mobile money."
The summit made its way to the panel discussion on digital economic identity and financial inclusion where Sean Nowak who is the managing partner to Zephyr Acom in Kenya said: "Clarity in regulation in Kenya is key." Supplementing to the insights put forward, Kiprono Kittony, National Chairman of KNCCI addressed that "many organisations have turned away from cryptocurrency for the simple reason that they do not understand it" Carrying forward the discussion "With blockchain and cryptocurrency, we can't run away from literal campaigns," said Eric Mwangi, Venture Partner UK & African Blockchain Global.
Bitange Ndemo put in words that "if Africa traded with itself we would have so much capital in the continent. The money that flows out of Africa to be hidden in foreign countries is ten times of more than the money that comes in form of Aid. I lost hope in the African Union when they developed vision 2063 when most of us will be dead." The panel was moderated by Mir Haque, founder and CEO, Aphaea Capital, United States.
Another panel discussion attracted a lot of attention with brilliant commerce experts approaching the assemblage of demystifying blockchain in Africa. Phobe Mosomi of Pesabase expressed her opinion, "Blockchain has the ability to solve some of the biggest challenges we face in financial services in Africa. Statistics show that 98% of Africans now have a phone and we also have the fastest growing internet infrastructure with only 27% of Africans are financially included, so there is a platform to be able to grow."
Cedric Wachira, co-founder of Brim Company concluded by saying, "Cryptocurrency has the potential to replace mPesa because you'll have the capacity to have unlimited transactions," Rosemary Koech Kimwatu of OxygeneMCL described that the blockchain technology promises more transparency but regulation of the same is necessary because there's no financial service that can exist without it.
The panel also disclosed some of the key points on how blockchain technology will drive innovation in Kenya. "Regulation and financial systems need to be working with blockchain technology soon. There needs to be more collaboration within the ecosystem to enable blockchain technology to grow and build capacity," updated Nikola Stojanow, CBDO of æternity in Liechtenstein.
Other panelists included Christian Kakoba, Community lead, BitHub Africa and were being moderated by Michael Kimani, Chairman of Blockchain Association of Kenya who predicted that in the next three years, more start-ups will be raising through.
Post-luncheon networking break, Muhammad Salman Anjum, CEO and founder of Feelogical Solutions LLC, United Arab Emirates delivered a keynote presentation on the evolving landscape of blockchain regulations. Hamid Rashid, CEO of Finterra, Malaysia, conveyed his social solution for blockchain in the next technical presentation of the summit.
Among other sessions, block chat panel discussed the impact of blockchain technology on social and economic sectors in the region. Panelists included Stephany Zoo, Head of Marketing, BitPesa; Eugene Mutai, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Evangelist, Miner and Investor, RBI; Michael Mbuthia, CIO, KBA/IPSL – Peslink; Janet Nyagwencha, Cryptocurrency Expert, Kenya Blockchain Investment; Daniel Kimotho, Affiliate Researcher – Institute of Blockchain Studies; and was being moderated by Angeline Mbogo, Business Writer, Kenyan Wall Street.
Featured presentation was given by Dickson Nsofor, CEO, Co-Founder of KORA who put forth his expertise about the promising role of FinTech in Africa. Towards the end of the first day, Niyi Ayoola, Daniels Founder and President of IIPELP gave his international use case on the implementation of blockchain technology. The summit received a lot of positive responses and saw delegates bagging the top trend list in Kenya on Twitter.
Highlights of the second day include an insightful opening address by Jeff Berwick, Chief Editor of The Dollar Vigilante. The summit will witness a keynote speaker, Fernando Wangila, Deputy Director (Head of ICT and Innovation) in National Transport and Safety Authority will talk about how blockchain is helping change government services. Tunji Durodola, Technical Consultant/Systems Integrator for National Identity Management Commission in Nigeria will also be delivering his international use case on blockchain technology. The summit will see a host of emerging startups joining the Startup World Cup Pitch Competition – Regional Finale, to pitch their ideas in front of the jury members by Fenox Ventures and get shortlisted to compete with 16 other participants and win $1 million as a grand investment prize in San Francisco.
Sponsors and partners included Bankorus, Messenger Bank, Apla, NKD Technologies, Acorn Collective, Finterra, æternity, Property2Chain, ETHLend, KWH Coin, Unibright, Prover, Etherty, Bank4YOU Group, RightMesh, Cellulant, Dicra.io, Nairobi Securities Exchange, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Blockchain Association of Kenya, Incubate Africa, BitHub.Africa, Point50 Capital, Aphaea Capital and International Business Times, India.