Monday, 21 November 2016
From the Editor-at-Large
Earlier in November 2016, the South African Reserve Bank circulated a smart contract using a private Ethereum-based blockchain network to the Payments Association of South Africa, the Financial Services Board, Strate, and several banks in the country.
Blockchain provides a decentralised “digital ledger” of all the transactions carried out on a network, meaning that everyone can keep track of transactions as they happen. Everyone on the network must approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded. All this information is kept secure using cryptography.
Other than being the ledger on which transactions in cryptocurrency are recorded, blockchain does have a variety of uses, and the smart contract illustrates one such application. Smart contracts based on blockchain are uniquely tamper-resistant because they are run and are stored on a network of computers that is beyond the influence of the contract's participants.
Since none of the contract's participants can influence the smart contract beyond what they are obliged to do, all of the participants can trust that this type of contract will be executed as it is. All the parties on the network will be able to keep track of changes and progress in real time, and this also minimizes the need for trusted intermediaries - instead of having multiple people in separate departments checking for proof of performance as stipulated in the contract, the contract itself is now able to automatically check that same proof of performance.
Smart contracts can be applied in other areas, such as keeping registries to enforce property law and enforcing credit agreements between financial institutions and individuals.
Given the regulatory challenges that cryptocurrency faces, it is likely that blockchain-based smart contracts will encounter some resistance. However, the benefits that a tamper-proof system presents, especially in the prevention of corruption, cannot be understated.
What do you think? Would you trust a smart contract that's stored on a network of computers somewhere based on the blockchain? Give us a shout at [email protected]
By Sello Moloi
In possibly a first for Africa, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) along with the Payments Association of South Africa, Financial Services Board, Strate and some of the country's major banks, namely Investec Bank, ABSA, Rand Merchant Bank and Standard Bank successfully managed to circulate a smart contract on an Ethereum based blockchain private network set up among themselves. This comes after talks by the banks earlier in July 2016 to connect some parts of the South African banking system to a private version of the Ethereum blockchain.
Facebook's Community Cellular Manager Lets You Build A Functional 2G Cellular Network From Open-Source Components
By Eric Mugendi
Facebook has announced the release of the Community Cellular Manager (CCM), a complete “network in a box” suite that will enable the operation of small-scale cellular networks on the OpenCellular platform announced in June. With OpenCellular, CCM, and an open source software radio stack, it is now possible to build an entire functional 2G cellular network with open source components; from hardware to routing to management to interconnectivity. The code is available on GitHub.
Meet Takunda Chingonzoh, Whose Belief In Collaborative Brilliance Is The Force Behind Zimbabwe's TechVillage
By Lerato Chiyangwa
In my journey to find out more about African startups, I have met several interesting people. One of them is Takunda Chingonzoh, the Founder of TechVillage, a collaborative working space for early stage entrepreneurs based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Takunda loves solving problems. He is a firm believer in collaborative brilliance, stating, “The next biggest disruption will come not from a single startup but from a set of connected startups working together to bring meaningful value to the market."
By Daniel Mwesigwa
Africa's increasingly connected population has long attracted the attention of tech giants such as Google and Facebook. As their home markets became saturated, they set their sights to the “frontier markets” in Sub-Saharan Africa, opening up liaison offices and recruiting the best local talent to help draw people in. The term “frontier” in itself beautifully captures the opportunities and perils involved. It sounds like a wide-open opportunity, adventurous, perhaps even romantic, but not without its risks. As the tech giants changed tact, they killed off whatever projects failed to take off, reorganising their resources to push “frontier tech”, which is an extension of the sort of solutionism and pseudo-philanthropic initiatives that have taken root in Silicon Valley.
In Other News
20 startups will pitch to investors at Angel Fair Africa - Disrupt Africa
Tobiloba Ajibola's bespoke fashion service #DressbyAloli, and Adegoke Olubusi's OneMedical, an advanced digital health records platform, have won the Etisalat Prize for Innovation - Innovation Village