During the question and answer session organized by the Africa Blockchain Developers call questions arose about the likelihood of adoption in the continent of Africa from the technical standpoint and from the government. Dr. Macharia Waruingi of Ubrica explained that although the government of Kenya is very supportive of blockchain and cryptocurrencies as communicated by the minister of communication, Mr. Joseph Mucheru, Internet becomes a limiting factor to the distribution of cryptocurrencies such as Ubricoin and other benefits of Blockchain such as land titling, death registry, birth registry and the like. Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 explained that internet had seven layers. He invented those layers as very important for the operation of the internet. Cryptocurrencies like Ubricoin and other currencies on the blockchain are to be found on the sixth and seventh layer of the internet. These two layers are the schemes for presentations and applications – user interface, windows, formats, and operating systems and so on. These are summed up in the ingenious schemes of hyperlinks (click on a word and go to a new page) and universal resource locators (URLS) addresses. While it is strait forward to work on these two layers the five layers below go unattended in Africa. Hundreds of millions of people are still outside of internet and these five layers below six and seven present enormous investment opportunities. Access to internet remain expensive even Kenya where the cellular network penetration is almost 100%. The internet service comes as bundles that are provided by cellular network providers and people in the villages cannot afford.
Layer one for example is the infrastructure layer that can bring internet all the way to the last mile. This layer is crying for investment. In this layer is the physical layer. Investment opportunities include, the fiber-optic lines, microwave oscillators, mixers, 1550- and 900- nanometer lasers, photodetectors, silicon routers, erbium-doped amplifiers, and twisted-pair telephone wire, antennas, coaxial cables – the list is endless – that carry the data packets across the network at the behest of the layer above it. You take your pick from this list of major opportunities. Together, all these things combined would call for investment of a billion dollars. Without so much capital infusions then the penetration of blockchain down to the last mile in Africa will not be possible. But with continued efforts by organizations such as Africa’s Blockchain Developers and such partners as Ubrica this dream is just around the corner and it requires systematic mobilization of capital from all stakeholders interested in investing in extremely lucrative field of internet connectivity in Africa. Although the demand for investment in the first layer is uniformly present in all African countries, not all the countries meet the investors with such openness because of inhibiting policies and perceiving rules of social order and make growth of business nearly impossible. Countries like Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa are great candidates for investment in this first layer.
The second layer in the datalink. This is the medium where hardware becomes “firmware” and software that define the electrical specifications, timing rules and electron-photon conversions that enable the transmission of information across a link from one node or computational address to the next. This layer also requires direct capital investments. Layers three, four and five are will receive investments from the users of the internet. Layer three the network layer, layer four is the transport layer and layer five the session layer. These three layers work well when one and two are working well.
As you can see, the distribution and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies relies a lot on layer one and two, the infrastructure and data layer.
First published on Linkedin