One cannot speak in totality about a country’s stance on adopting new technology but the existence of the ‘Ugandan Blockchain Association’ alone speaks volumes. The membership association is home to individuals and organizations that are interested in promoting blockchain tech and exploring its capabilities amongst other things. The common aim of its members is to make available blockchain related resources for the government and the general public. It is officially known as the Blockchain Association of Uganda (BAOU). Uganda has an experience of this new technology, new business models and novel legal questions. By far the most significant headline-grabbing development in 2017 and 2018 relates to the stunning rise of Blockchain technology. The technology has the potential to dramatically transform practices in significant segments of the Ugandan economy.
Kwame Rugunda, Chairman of said association further emphasizes the aims of BOAU in an interview:
- It encourages efficiency and promotes high ethical standards of business among its members in matters touching the use, regulation, transfer, remittance or other management and exchange of cryptocurrencies, and in so doing to deal with any parties and authorities in performance and fulfillment of the objectives of the Association.
- We facilitate business leaders, educators, policy-makers, institutions and citizens in using of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies and any related technologies.
A range of blockchain applications are being implemented in Uganda; the enabling of micropayment systems to digital identity management, smart contracts, etc. Undoubtedly, blockchain-based solutions can warm its way up, above traditional or non-existent technology infrastructures in the country.
A partnership between the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and Crypto Savannah, a leading blockchain and crypto education and ecosystem firm in Uganda brought about the blockchain technology endorsement (by the UCC Executive Director). This partnership has seen four graduates go through an exclusive 3-month blockchain development training in Ethiopia.
The UCC Executive Director congratulated these graduates upon concluding their training and added that UCC will continue to deliberate and educate on the new technology. In addition, he said, ‘We are open for engagements and partnerships with local industry associations like the Blockchain Association of Uganda and exchanges like Crypto Savannah. There is no doubt that Uganda is eager to adopt blockchain technology.” He urged the private sector to accept the blockchain technology without leaving the management to the government alone. In another vein, he also urged the government saying, “We need policy leadership in ICT and 4IR technologies if we are to gain from the much-acclaimed benefits of blockchain technology.”
Elizabeth Ahumuza, one of the graduates from the training expressed her enthusiasm for the course saying: “Blockchain gives us a great opportunity, it is like a stepping stone for our country Uganda,” she said explaining that the technology has a lot of advantages one being that there’s a lot of transparency. For example, when you’re in an organization that uses blockchain, everyone is able to see what is happening, any transaction that comes in and what goes out.” She added: “It is very hard to hack a blockchain-built application because it is built on blocks and each block is intertwined with another. To hack such a system you need to put down the entire system which is very impossible.”
The country’s youths are usually technology savvy and have taken to crypto quickly. 55 percent of the country’s population is below 18 years old which they have a predominantly young population. The only country with a younger population in the world is Niger.
Cryptos have thus found fertile ground in Uganda. The Prince of the Buganda kingdom, Prince Kudra Kalema, believes that this sets his homeland apart from many other countries.
In a podcast CryptoSavannah’s CEO, Kwame Rugunda discussed crypto and blockchain, Regulation and early developments that led to the current state of the crypto revolution. Kwame Rugunda is also the chairman of the Blockchain Association of Uganda
- On the early developments that led to the current state of the crypto revolution, Kwame said: “Until the revolution that was seen by mobile phones, we had about 3 million bank accounts run by 25 banks serving a population of about 45 million people. When the mobile revolution sparked, it significantly increased the number of people who had access to financial services from 3 million to 21 million people.” Kwame proceeded to highlight the limits of mobile money such as in micro-payments which is where crypto comes in enabling what the other conventional options have not.
- On regulation: According to Kwame, regulatory bodies and governments are still trying to make sense of these new and emerging technologies. In addition, established systems are definitely fighting back realizing the disruptive nature of these technologies.
- On crypto, he said, “I see a stable coin, pegged on an African asset, issued by a form of central authority taking over. Once it is accepted at the leadership level, it will easily penetrate the market.” Uganda has made progress car: purchase using crypto, application development on blockchain and among others, are a sign.
Not many countries in Africa allow crypto exchanges to operate; Uganda is one of the few. The Uganda government is also in the process of setting up its own task force to further push the adoption of emerging technologies like Blockchain. The country has hosted various blockchain conferences in time past. Several cryptos to fiat currency exchanges have been launched and some businesses like restaurants, hotels, shops accept payment in cryptocurrencies. Uganda continues to see a lot of growth in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as well spoke in support of blockchain technology. At the Africa Blockchain conference held in May, he said that there is a need “to look for a new technology of enabling things to move faster and new systems that go with it.”
In November last year, Uganda’s Minister of Finance told parliament that the government is working on introducing regulations to govern cryptos. The Minister was responding to concerns about the emergence of pyramid schemes branding themselves as crypto projects. A number of Ugandans had fallen victim to the scams, losing millions in total.
While the government would continue working on the new regulation, the Minister implored citizens to be more careful while evaluating projects to invest in. “The Central Bank said Bitcoin and all these agencies are not under their control; we advised Ugandans to go slow and be cautious. If you are trading in digital currencies, we caution you not to trade in areas which are not regulated.”
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Credits- CryptoDavid 2019 David Gitonga, Steve Kaaru, Wikipedia.
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