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INTERVIEW: Blockchain technology doesn’t matter unless it helps people, says Chimezie Chuta

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Chimezie Chuta on Blockchain in Nigeria, Africa

The objective of Blockchain Nigeria User Group (BNUG)is simply to create a pro-innovation environment for the industry, meeting the growing global demand for accessible, transparent and democratic financial and technical systems.

To do that, BNUG fosters collaboration between the community and industry leaders, educate agencies and the public on the benefits of blockchain and related technologies, and advocate for public policy that cultivates and enables innovation and improves lives.

Founder of the Group, Chimezie Chuta in a chat with TechEconomy.ng expresses believe that Nigeria and indeed Africa, is ready for Blockchain Technology.

Chimezie Chuta is an Advisory Board Member at Kinesis Money, Caymans, and formally the Regional Director for Africa at Paxful Inc.

He is the Founder/ coordinator of Blockchain Nigeria User Group, a vibrant group of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency developers, enthusiasts and investors helping to drive adoption and awareness of the Blockchain industry in Nigeria and across Africa.

He is also the Africa Lead, Technology & Innovation at Blockspace Africa Technologies and CEO of Techbuild Innovation Partners LTD.

In addition the above mentioned, I’m the author of a series of books including; Seizing Opportunities in Blockchain and Digital Currency, Revolution: A Handbook for Enthusiasts and The Building Blocks of Blockchain StartUP Entrepreneurs.

Also, under the platform organization, Blockchain Nigeria User Group and her regional coordinators, organize international conferences across various regions of Nigeria, Chimezie speaks regularly at various blockchain, cryptocurrency and technology conferences both locally and internationally.

As a Certified Technology Innovation Expert, he has been an open source advocate and a Drupal Evangelist for 11 years with current openSource enthusiasm expanding to 3D Printing Technologies.

With Chimezie’s involvement as a community lead organizer, he is involved in a number of industry/ government projects working towards technology innovation.

This includes being a member of the Fintech Roadmap Committee of the Nigeria Capital Market set up by SEC Nigeria.

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He is also a Member of Government Blockchain Association (GBA), member of the Blockchain Group of Africa Progress Group (APG), chaired by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and a member Fintech Association of Nigeria, among others.

More information about him can be found on the personal website.

Blockchain, one of the most disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a type of distributed ledger technology best known as the architecture that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but its potential applications go much further – Chuta

You founded Blockchain Nigeria Group. Can you tell us how it all started?

I first came in contact with the term “Blockchain Technology” in early 2015, while researching for modern application of 3D Printing in supply chain management. I was very curious and began digging further. Much later, I stumbled upon an online Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Digital Currency 501, being offered by University of Nicosia, Cyprus. It was a three months online programmed thought by respected thought leaders in the Cryptocurrency industry, Andreas Antonopoulos and Antonis Polemitis. This free MOOC program at the University of Nicosia and the 12 packed courses really opened my eyes. I recommend it anytime any day for anyone who is interested in this space. We were about 6 Nigerians in that online class.

The insight I got from that program and my online researches revealing several books and videos by Andreas Antonopoulos energized me into taking the primary actions that birthed Blockchain Nigeria User Group, as a dedicated platform for driving awareness, advocacy and adoption of blockchain technology especially in our government processes. I believe that most of the political, economic and social challenges we have in Africa can be mitigated by leveraging blockchain technology. For me lack of trust is our number one problem in Africa. We don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our government, we don’t trust our institutions, we don’t trust our relationships. That lack of trust is what breeds all kind of suspicion which impedes progress on all fronts. Trust and transparency is at the core of blockchain technology.

For me lack of trust is our number one problem in Africa. We don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our government, we don’t trust our institutions, we don’t trust our relationships.

What is the Group’s focus?

Our objective at Blockchain Nigeria User Group, is to create a pro-innovation environment for the industry, meeting the growing global demand for accessible, transparent and democratic financial and technical systems. To do that, we foster collaboration between the community and industry leaders, educate agencies and the public on the benefits of blockchain and related technologies, and advocate for public policy that cultivates and enables innovation and improves lives.

Blockchain technology doesn’t matter unless it helps people.

As a group, we Support Policymakers in their need to tackle their challenges in understanding blockchain, both the functionality and risks of decentralized cryptocurrency, in order to create an appropriate legal and regulatory framework that will foster the industry.

Blockchain: why should individuals, companies, countries and Continent (Africa) should pay attention?

Blockchain, one of the most disruptive technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a type of distributed ledger technology best known as the architecture that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but its potential applications go much further. Indeed, it promises to revolutionize the business and financial environment by reinventing processes, improving productivity and quality, reducing costs, and enhancing transparency.

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You see, Blockchain could present new ways to help companies, countries and a continent like Africa to overcome its numerous challenges, which continue to stymy her growth. Corruption and fraud are classic problems yet people are still looking at them through the lens of how we have always tried to solve them in the past. We need to fully embrace the way this technology offer new solutions to these age-old problems. Like I have said earlier, lack of trust and transparency are in the heart of Africa’s problems.

You see, Blockchain could present new ways to help companies, countries and a continent like Africa to overcome its numerous challenges, which continue to stymy her growth. Corruption and fraud are classic problems yet people are still looking at them through the lens of how we have always tried to solve them in the past.

In overcoming this lack of trust in relational transactions, blockchain’s potential could be unleashed. Blockchain-based land registries can tackle land fraud. It could instil further trust in financial transactions, streamlining remittances and other payments.

What are the components of blockchain that you think Nigeria can leverage on …on the immediate?

For any type of record keeping for which transparency, tamper proof storage, and clear maintenance of audit trail is desired, blockchain is the way to go. Be it marriage registry, land registry, birth registry, death registry, medical records, census records, academic records, supply chain records, financial records, blockchain is a tested technology that can be applied to deliver premium value.

Let’s look at the recent Blockchain, AI and Digital Assets Conference: what are the key takeaway(s)?

Among several take-aways, the conference was a unique opportunity to explain to the public the benefits and challenges of blockchain and its application in Nigeria. Modern digital economy relies on third party entities that can be hacked but the adoption of blockchain can play a role in ensuring that people’s privacy are protected.

We also made it clear that government needs to ensure that they digitize its processes/ activities, elevate discussion of the technology as such that it is well known by the public to improve their lives.

Do you think Nigeria has any advantage when it comes to blockchain?

Of course Nigeria has a lot of advantages when it comes to blockchain adoption. The near absence of reliable data for statisticians, which is the bedrock of planning and development, makes it imperative that blockchain and artificial intelligence is the way to go. This is one time I see that lack of legacy systems has become an advantage. All we simply need is to leapfrog and build on top of the decentralized infrastructure of blockchain technology. This is Nigeria’s opportunity and we cannot afford to miss it.

What are the career opportunities in this ‘new’ field?

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Blockchain, being an advanced technology on its own, provides very bright career opportunities for different skill-sets almost like every other sector. However software development is a major area that is currently booming. Other careers like project management, digital marketing, community management, forensic, accounting, legal etc also exist but only people with the requisite deep knowledge of blockchain and cryptoeconomy will stand better chance of career migration. Hence the need to upskill, right-skill cannot be over-emphasized.

But here is the key element that blockchain brings to the table: the fact that rules can be embedded in the protocol and enforced, thus maintaining data integrity in a way hitherto known – Chuta

People tend to mistake blockchain for cryptocurrency, kindly educate us on how they are related and the difference.

 Without bitcoin, not many would have known about blockchain even though dcentralized databases pre-existed bitcoin. But here is the key element that blockchain brings to the table: the fact that rules can be embedded in the protocol and enforced, thus maintaining data integrity in a way hitherto known. With blockchain, code is king. Cryptocurrencies on the other hand are the tools for incentivizing people who opt to support the network. They could be either a representation of rewards, an equity on the network or currency of transaction.

Is Africa really ready to take advantages of digital assets?

I think Africa is ready. Let me add that Blockchain and Digital Assets will do very well in Africa and in most developing countries. Decentralized economics is already opening the door to a global, equitable “econosphere” enhancing the common man’s equality of opportunity to lift himself out of the poverty trap of debt bondage. For the first time in human history, mankind’s ingenuity and technological advancements have created the environment for the freedom to transact with hard money, sound money, ideal money, even pure money.

Never before in the history of mankind has such an opportunity existed. Africa’s most valuable asset is not its natural reserves. It’s the 1.2billion African citizens, and their natural labor, harnessed equitably through DLT, which can collectively produce a most powerful economic force, raising the GDP of the continent 10x, without any external foreign intervention or investment. Every African has the right to be informed of this “fourth industrial revolution”, and take their rightful economic place in it.

If you observe, Blockchain Nigeria User Group has been holding conferences where we pair Blockchain tech with AI. The reason is that whereas AI and Machine Learning will help us to build reliable data, blockchain and the it’s unique types of consensus algorithms and native security features will guarantee that none of the things we fear becomes a reality- Chuta

Who should be afraid of AI?

I think this Artificial Intelligence phobia originated from the early SFi movies that projected the possibility that super-intelligent AI machines could develop complete autonomy and act against human interests. I do think sometimes we get carried away and start to think about sentient machines—machines that are just going to understand everything the way that we do and totally interact with us like a human. But a lot of these scare mongering are the negative aspects of the technology that we don’t control, I think these are a little bit overwrought. If you observe, Blockchain Nigeria User Group has been holding conferences where we pair Blockchain tech with AI. The reason is that whereas AI and Machine Learning will help us to build reliable data, blockchain and the it’s unique types of consensus algorithms and native security features will guarantee that none of the things we fear becomes a reality.

We must understand that with increasing data comes increasing confusion. This is the primary burden of Artificial Intelligence. How will those data be safe from adversarial attacks and manipulative tendencies of centralized authorities? Blockchain and AI are both extreme sides of modern technology spectrum: while one is fostering centralized intelligence on close data platforms, the other seeks to promote decentralized applications in an open-data environment. An intelligent marriage of the two techs will catalyze the long awaited economic renaissance across Africa.

The future of money

The entire banking and financial services industry is standing on the threshold of transformation. The power to create money is the greatest power available to modern man. That power has been challenged and the incumbents are not taking it lightly. The rumble that has been raised by Libra, the fiat backed stable coin being launched by Facebook and her allies bear eloquent testimony of the aforementioned. Indeed the revolution will not be televised.

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Chimezie Chuta on Blockchain in Nigeria, Africa 4

The entire banking and financial services industry is standing on the threshold of transformation. The power to create money is the greatest power available to modern man- Chuta

The future of Digital Financial Assets will be based on stability, store of value and being a reliable medium of exchange.

We see many people becoming financially included in the digital economy just by the increase of accessibility of new technology and digital platform.

A monetary system is the backbone of any economy. Everything else in an economic environment links into a monetary system and for the economy to grow, its monetary environment needs to provide price stability. This is what the Kinesis Monetary System, a project which I have the privilege of sitting in its Advisory Board, aims to achieve. By virtue of making an alternative monetary system available which provides the most stable form of currency, Gold, Kinesis will provide Governments and people of Africa a tool towards establishing financial stability, store of value and a reliable and honest medium of exchange.

Thank You for your time.

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