Did You Know Bitcoin could solve land disputes in Africa?

Did You Know Bitcoin could solve land disputes in Africa?

Have you ever tried to buy land in Africa? It can be a tiresome experience, with so many channels to pass through, and often very expensive. Land has long been a sensitive issue across the country. In many communities there are land disputes that have been raging on for years. Land often belongs to traditional communities, or chieftaincies, rendering it very difficult at time to know who actually has a right to the land, and if it has actually been purchased correctly. In many instances, disputes about the borders of towns and villages, can also effect the ownership of land. In both Kenya and Ghana I saw walled off areas of land with “NOT FOR SALE” painted on the gates. A symptom of distrust in the land ownership system, with some trying to fraudulently sell land of others.

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How do you organise ownership of Africa’s vast land

What happens to the new “owner” if one community sells land, that belongs to another community? In Ghana I have seen first hand the damage of land disputes, which can end up escalating to other issues. In one example, one community bailed a dangerous “fake pastor” who was charged with attempted murder of an alleged witch. (A lovely old lady from the community) The fake pastor subsequently skipped bail and was never brought to justice.

Long queues at offices, unnecessary bureaucracy,  often put people off following correct procedures, going down fraudulent paths to secure land. The system can be confusing, and with so many people involved it is possible to for them to be tricked into paying a higher price for the procedure.

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So, how can innovation and technology help Africa streamline this process and make it far more transparent. The continent has made a habit about ingeniously taking innovations, joining them together, and creating solutions for local problems. This is another case in which such a process could take place. With the development of blockchain technology in recent years, there is a way to record the ownership and change of ownership of land without complication and confusion.

Blockchain technology is a digital database, which is distributed across a network of computers. Records are encrypted, and because they are on many machines, it is free from human error, editing or removal. It is the same system that cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are built on. But in the case of ownership of land, which requires a huge database, it will not be as volatile as Bitcoin.

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There would be clear documentation of land ownership, and transfer history, making it very difficult for fraud to exist. In 2017, Kenya started to run pilot projects and for both land ownership and educational records, which can also find themselves manipulated by corrupt officials, or sneaky fingered students.

One such case, Bitland, are doing exactly this in Ghana, and they are hoping to expand into Nigeria and Kenya. One issue with this system is agreeing who the land belongs to in the first place. Bitland try to combat this by going into the communities to work out exactly who owns the land, before inputting the data. They use a combination of GPS, Openmap, and other APIs to allow users to utilise their mobile device to enter a land survey.

With records distributed to all parties, and not just held in local land offices, and everyone able to see who owns, sells and divides land, the system will become far more transparent. Multiple land ownership deeds for the same plot would be a thing of the past. The technology has the potential to also be rolled out to other elements of property ownership. Gaining planning permission can also be a long drawn out process, open to corruption or who you know in the office. If blockchain technology can also be used within this process, so that everyone knows exactly what part of the process has been reached, it will make the process easier, faster, and make sure that less structures are built without permission. (Of which there are many!)

With trust in land ownership certificates crumbling, this technology could stop many disputes between communities, and therefore put a halt to many social disputes across the continent between individuals and local communities. Governments across Africa should look into creating their own land ownership blockchain systems in order clean up the system and stop disputes.

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like our Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.

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Did You Know you are now protected against online fraud in South Africa?

Did You Know you are now protected against online fraud in South Africa?

Money! We all need it, and it never seems to be enough to meet our expenditure demands. (At least that is how I feel!) We work, we earn, we receive the money to our banks, we spend it, either wish cash or card. Well that has been the way for a long time, but innovation in the financial sector is beginning to make things look very difficult. The working, and earning hasn’t changed, but for some of us, especially in Africa the way we receive and spend money has changed drastically.

Innovation in the African financial sector is changing entire cultural norms. People are paid to their phones, rather than a bank account, which many across the continent don’t have, and they use their phones to purchase anything from food, to transportation across the city. In many cases there is no more need for cash, and with cryptocurrencies now trying to find their way turbulently there is more change on the way.

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I paid for this delicious meal digitally!

All this has meant that there are more ways for people to use their money with online purchasing gaining traction across the continent. But, this also means there are more ways for people to find crooked ways of stealing from others. Whilst there is more freedom of purchasing, there is also a perception of risk, with regular stories of people losing money in online transactions. In my short time in Kenya I heard of a couple of stories or people losing money through M-Pesa. In one case, a gardener allegedly lost his entire Christmas bonus to M-Pesa fraud, although his claim was not proved before I left the country. Continue reading “Did You Know you are now protected against online fraud in South Africa?”

Did You Know Fintech in Africa will be more secure?

Did You Know Fintech in Africa will be more secure?

The festive period is over and reality is sinking in. Back to work, and worrying about the money we spent on gifts, food and going out over the break. For many, money worries are a constant and not just seasonal and some take drastic methods to fix them. In desperation, people can find themselves reaching out to loansharks and money lending services with ridiculous interest rates, which just drag them further into the abyss of debt. This of course is not a problem in Africa alone, with many all over the world feeling pressure to take out a pay day loan, but the lack of regulation in parts of Africa can put people into dangerous situations.

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There is currently a race to corner the loan market in Africa. With more and more people having access to the internet and mobile phones, it is now possible for them to gain access to credit. The informal work force finds it challenging to gain access to credit. Many of them do not have bank accounts, and therefore it is difficult to get a credit rating. But this is changing, with firms like LendingSquare offering innovative methods of creating credit scores, using criteria and data taken from their internet usage as well as their mobile money expenditure. This is a starting point for providing small safe (ish) loans for small businesses.

This movement in the credit sector has pushed TransUnion, who have been based in the USA for over 50 years, to take the plunge and head down to use their expertise in the Continue reading “Did You Know Fintech in Africa will be more secure?”

Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?

Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?

Africa is synonymous around the world as a continent that is struggling with poverty, security concerns, and health emergencies (whether diseases like malaria and ebola, or droughts). Even before the Live Aid fundraising event for drought ridden Ethiopia in the 1980’s there were many events, and charities asking for people to donate money for causes in Africa. Whether to assist in malaria prevention and cure, to build schools and other important infrastructure, or help more children get an education, charities, and big TV telethon events have been allocating funds across the African continent for a huge variety of projects. Add to this the foreign aid pledged by governments, there is a huge amount of aid reaching the African continent each year. (In 2013 over $55 billion were given to Africa in aid alone)

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But is this an effective way of using these funds? Some would say that developmentally, little has changed, at least not proportionally to the funds flying into the continent. Whether that is because of corruption, mismanagement of funds or bad leadership, it is hard to say, but in certain instances it is clear to see that little has changed. I have been going to the same village in Ghana for 15 years, and even though there has been substantial investment in school infrastructure in the village, the fortunes of the village are much the same, with subsistence farming as the major employer. Having said that, the water supply to the village has made a tremendous difference, with water no longer having to be fetched from kilometres away from rivers.

Continue reading “Did You Know Investment is better for Africa then Charity?”

Did You Know Snapplify is a school library in an App?

Did You Know Snapplify is a school library in an App?

Education is a topic that is often on the lips of those speaking at the copious African conferences around the world. This, and the many charities and NGOs that are set up to improve African schools, sponsor a child to go through school, or to send young people out to teach in rural schools, could over emphasise a negative issue throughout the continent.

I myself, travelled to Ghana as an 18 year old to “teach”, but when I realised that my teaching abilities were naturally not suitable for teenagers, I changed the mandate of the trip to report back to the small charity that asked me to go on the state of the education system in the region. Whilst there were some issues, what I saw was a group of teachers trying their hardest to teach effectively with limited tools. Back then, in 2002, there were not many options for technology to assist teachers in their jobs, but now, with an explosion of African Innovation, there are options across the continent.

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One of such options is Snapplify. Yesterday, 6th of November, they were one of many innovations awarded by the AppsAfrica awards. (We have written about many of the other innovations awarded in two other blogs:

AppsAfrica awards Blog 1

AppsAfrica awards Blog 2

Snapplify provides e-book solutions for schools, with publishers such as Penguin Random House, Pearson, Oxford and Cambridge all signed up to the service to offer their books. Access to books is vital in education. Not just for primary and secondary schools, but at universities. During my time at the University of Ghana studying for my Masters degree (a decade ago), it was very challenging to get my hands on the material for my research. If it wasn’t for access to online journals, I would have struggled.

snapplify diagram africa educatin.pngUsing Snapplify, schools, colleges and universities can create a special school branded store, where parents and teachers can buy the relevant material for their syllabus. It is not only parents that can buy books, institutions can purchase in bulk for their students.  They have partnered with a number of organisations and governments in order to be able to tailor content depending on the region, and are looking to push outside of Africa. Their system not only makes it easier for students to get their hands on excellent content for the learning, but also to partake in reading for leisure, which is incredibly important for literacy skills.

Institutions can also upload quizzes, class outlines, notes, and other information for their students, which is then easily downloaded using the Snapplify app, and accessed on individual devices. They have created a one stop shop for students to organise their learning and access content to learn from.

There are a plethora of options for anyone that wants access to information in Africa. Information is vitally important to enable Africa’s substantial youth to meet their potential and drive the continent forward. If we want parts of Africa to be hubs for world innovation we need an army of highly skilled and trained individuals to be able to develop ideas for the world.

For this to happen, they need to have access to material so they can not only learn in school, but at home, on the bus, in bed, on the toilet and anywhere else they feel like practicing their skills.  And technology like that of Snapplify, Raada, who offer African oriented content, Worldreader, who give children access to books, Or BRCK, who have created a mini server with tablets that can be deployed in rural areas, are creating further opportunities for Africa’s youth.

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please she the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, don’t forget to check out and like out Facebook pageFor more interesting blogs about African Innovation, check out our homepage.

 

 

Did You Know Fintech innovation is changing African lives?

Did You Know Fintech innovation is changing African lives?

Money makes the world go round! Whether carrying around huge wads of cash, coins jangling in your pocket, plastic or mobile solutions, without money, we wouldn’t get very far. With robots set to take many of the current jobs, the future may see us have a very different relationship to money, that is if money still exists. But, in the now, there is no escaping it, and that is the same in the Fintech sector.

The world’s tech companies are clamouring to come up with the next big financial solution. Banks are trying to keep up, while other companies try to find new and easier payment methods, as well as create synergies with other industries, for example insurance and credit. In Africa this is especially so, with financial inclusion so important and a huge market for Fintech to continue to tap into. In recent years, so many Fintech solutions have popped up around Africa. From blockchain technology, making it easier for individuals to invest in solar energy, to new crowed funding systems, or payment structure like mobile money, Fintech solutions are always represented at innovation awards around the country.

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Africa still a cash culture

This week is no different, with 4 Fintech solutions each took home $70,000 at a the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment pitching event, aimed at finding talented Fintech entrepreneurs, hosted by AlphaCode. The event is an initiative of Merrill Lynch and we will feature some of the winners here! Continue reading “Did You Know Fintech innovation is changing African lives?”

Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?

Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?

Crime. It happens everywhere in the world. We can’t escape it, and fighting it is extremely difficult. Africa has a crime stereotype that is struggling to shift, and that in many instances is putting off potential oversees investors and inhibiting the tourist industry. Of course, there are dangerous instances of crime that occur in the major African cities, but this happens in all the major cities all around the world. But, some places in Africa need to fight harder to clear the image that has been created for it.

Crime will continue to happen across the world, but how is it possible to create an environment to help people feel safer in Africa. A British company have developed an app to give some security to people who find themselves in a dangerous situation. The app is aimed not only at criminal circumstances, but also other emergencies such as natural disasters, car accidents or home fires.

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Continue reading “Did You Know an app in Nigeria can keep you safe from crime?”