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REVIEW: Meet SecureAgric – the Nigeria’s blockchain startup want to transform Africa’s agriculture value chains

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DEGRP – Uganda

Agriculture remains a prominent sector in Africa and it poses heightening economic potentials. Asides from having the lowest cost of production in the world, the continent is regarded as a key center of agricultural production because of the availability of arable land. 

Even with a significant part of Africa being heavily dependent on agriculture, its full agricultural potential has remained untapped. Improvement in agricultural outcome is dependent on adequate use of arable land and improvement in productivity. 

Agricultural advancement drives economic growth which will be unachievable without notable investments in specific areas in the sector cutting across infrastructure, market, trade, electricity, and most importantly, technology.  

Secure Agric

SecureAgric.com.ng

Secure Agric is an agricultural value chain startup company that’s aimed at revolutionizing the African agricultural value chain by erecting a world-class supply chain on the blockchain network. 

Secure Agric aims to integrate the fragmented segments of the value chain and build a secured trust driven value chain based on blockchain technology. 

The agricultural sector is faced with a lot of challenges that have, over the years, served as a hindrance to attaining its full potential. Here are some of these challenges and how Secure Agric stands to address them. 

Inefficient supply chain- post harvest food loss

Supply chains, especially in developing countries are usually long and complex. According to estimates, losses in the supply chain accounts for about 30% of agricultural production, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced for human consumption does not make it to the consumer. Post-harvest food loss comes up along the value chain from harvest through to the point at which food is made available to consumers. Farmers are mostly accountable for the losses. 

While increasing agricultural productivity in Africa may serve to ease the demand for more food, lessening PHL is also needed to ensure that additional production is consumed rather than lost. Efforts made towards reducing PHL should be intensified so that more of the food produced actually makes it to the consumer. 

However, it is motivating to note that efforts to handle PHL are being executed by some market players proposing many interventions and technologies. One example of such is Secure Agric. The system aims to minimize food losses by ensuring food produced are traceable till they make it to the consumer, thereby increasing the value for farmers and their agro-products, limiting food wastage, and at the same time, bringing small scale farmers out of poverty by increasing their income and making food available to all. 

Market links and distribution network

The agricultural sector has the most fragmented supply chain, ample with intermediaries. The chain enables the involvement of multiple parties. Farmers are known for the distribution of their farm produce at a very cheap price while consumers purchase at a very elevated price. The intermediaries end up with more of the additional value. 

With blockchain technology, price transparency upon exchange of values is ensured. AgriKonnect, one of the diverse products of Secure Agric, is aimed towards connecting African farmers directly to domestic and international consumers of food. This would impact significantly on the income and lives of smallholder farmers simultaneously providing more non-farming job opportunities for the expanding urban population and also increase the stability and sustainability of the food supply in Africa.

Realizing the real boom in agricultural production

Secure Africa is working towards constructing a world-class agricultural supply chain based on the blockchain network. With their varieties of products and solutions cutting across their utility token AgriKoin, AgriKonnect, SmartAgrik, AgPay, and other interesting innovations, Secure Agric is set to create the perfect bridge that would lead to the realization of a full agricultural potential in Africa. 

Agrikonnect (supply chain automation and tracking)

AgriKonnect is aimed at simplifying the agro commodity trading by providing farmers access to the market without leveraging intermediaries/brokers. With aid from blockchain technology, the system enables end-to-end visibility of the agricultural supply chain which allows for a completely transparent and traceable supply chain. The system will enable buyers and sellers to interact in a blockchain-backed environment, thereby, guaranteeing protection on both sides. 

AgriKonnect allows every participant of the supply chain to automate data transfer and delivery processes from the point of production to the customers. The users would get a full picture of the products they are purchasing. An unchangeable blockchain record is taken as items move along the supply chain. 

Apart from these, the system also allows its users to connect in a peer-to-peer lending environment. Farmers with less funds would be able to get funds from their peers who may have a short term loan to give out.

AGPay

AGPay is a payment platform that operates both on the traditional and peer-to-peer level (fiat and crypto payment platform). Secure Agric looks to digitize business-to-person (B2P) payments between agribusinesses and farmers as well as government-to-person (G2P) payments, between government and farmers in agriculture. This would serve as an entry point to financial inclusion for farmers while ensuring accountability and transparency. 

Agrikoin (secure agric’s utility token)

AgriKoin is a cryptocurrency that would be used across all Secure Agric platforms, as a means of receiving payments from customers. It would serve as a native transactional currency and would be used as a generally accepted means for value exchange.

Agrikard

AgriKard is a debit card for the utility token, AgriKoin. With this card, transactions can be made from anywhere. It is not limited to crypto transfers and payment alone, the card would also facilitate funds withdrawal in cash (fiat currency) as the card would be directly linked to users’ AgriKoin accounts as well as local currency accounts. 

Agriwallet

AgriWallet is a crypto wallet and trading system that serves as a store of cryptocurrencies. It is also a trading environment where sending, receiving and trading of AgriKoin and other available cryptocurrencies can take place. 

Smartagrik

SmartAgrik aims to furnish farmers with robust technologies for accelerating digital agriculture in Africa. The system would focus majorly on three most important technological aspects: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet Of Things (IoT), and drone technologies. 

Artificial Intelligence will assist in preventing the increasing rate of loss of food produce to pests and diseases. AI helps with the visualization and analytics of soil and crops for effortless identification of new and existing diseases and also make possible recommendations for solutions. 

IoT technology would impact significantly on agriculture in the aspect of evaluating agricultural data and making data-driven decisions. This is realized with smart technologies like automated machines, driverless cars, and connected devices. Drone technologies would replace labor-intensive and potentially harmful use of backpack sprayers and other similar negative health impact equipment. 

Digital technologies have become prominent for generating positive impacts on various segments of the community. Integrating it into the agricultural sector is yet another way of transforming Africa’s agricultural sector and bringing the continent to a new era in agriculture. 

The potential benefits of drones and other technology-based tools in solving various long-running agricultural problems cannot be ignored. Investing considerably on the right innovations and technologies is the key to advancing Africa’s agricultural sector. This will help in strengthening the resilience of African farmers and help the continent ward off mass starvation.

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Africa Blockchain Institute

Africa Blockchain Institute Organized The First African Blockchain Summer Bootcamp For Teenagers In Ghana

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In the spirit of catching them young, the Africa Blockchain Institute organized the first-ever Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for teenagers (age range 13 to 19 years old). A successful Bootcamp, according to the participants’ testimonials and stakeholders, held at the OpenLabs, Ring Road, Accra Ghana, between Monday 2nd August, and Friday 6th August 2021. 

The teenagers applied from across Africa, and selected participants all converged at the OpenLabs, Ghana, for an intensive five days of learning, interacting, and implementing personal  Blockchain projects. The participants were divided into three significant tracks, thus; Blockchain Development, Blockchain for Creatives and Blockchain Entrepreneurship. 

Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI
Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by Africa Blockchain Institute

Across these three tracks, the teenagers learnt introductory units to Blockchain Development for societal challenges, Blockchain evangelism, Non-Fungible Tokens, and how Cryptocurrency works. Another highlight of the program was the excursion to the Accra Digital Centre, where the Boot Campers were introduced to the tech ecosystem and feel of the Ghana Tech Lab and Accra Innovation Hub spaces. A visit was also made to the Museum of Science and Technology, and the teenagers got to understand the history of technology in Ghana. 

Worthy of mention was the panel session aimed at motivating the students to pursue a career in technology. While making his comments during the panel session, the founder of BankLess Africa, Mr. Muntala Mohammed Shaibu, urged the teenagers to stop seeing themselves as too young to experiment with new technologies. In her remarks, Ms. Elohor Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder of CodeLn, urged the teenagers to continue to explore their interest in technology and blockchain early.

Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI
Panel Session, Blockchain Summer Bootcamp for Teens by ABI

The Bootcamp ended with personal project presentations from the Blockchain Development and the Blockchain for Creatives & Entrepreneurship tracks. Projects such as NFT blogposts, Blockchain product reviews and Blockchain for transport and logistics were presented. The best presentation won the OpenLabs scholarship for Robotics Course. Thanks to Dr Sujith Jayaprakash, the Director of OpenLabs, Ghana, for the offer of scholarship. In his closing remark, the Executive Director of the Africa Blockchain Institute, Mr. Kayode Babarinde, urged the teenagers to continue using the  skills and knowledge gained during Bootcamp to explore Blockchain-related solutions further. We also appreciate Mr. Ganzaro Omar, Chairman, AfroBlocks, for his supports, and fostering collaborations with the Ghanian Blockchain community.

The Africa Blockchain Institute will continue to hold future Blockchain Summer Bootcamp series in various African cities to drive Blockchain knowledge into innovators early enough. 

Oluwaseun David ADEPOJU

Head of Research,

Africa Blockchain Institute. 

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Artificial Intelligence

How AI Is Helping Fintechs Provide Intelligent And Better Financial Services

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AI fintech services

We live in an era of data. In today’s world, data is the new gold. The quality of services now significantly depends on how much insight can be extracted from data to help in the creation of the services. For fintech organizations, building services that harness the power of data and artificial intelligence has now become necessary to ensure that the services are tailored to meet the needs of customers. Artificial intelligence is now being used in various ways to help fintech companies provide intelligent and improved services. Some of the major areas of AI application in fintech are discussed in this article.

Risk Assessment

From insurance companies to banks and other fintech institutions, assessing credit worthiness and estimating the level of risk associated with every transaction has become very crucial. Now, many fintech companies employ the use of AI in determining the credit profiles of clients which helps to minimize financial losses when customers fail to repay loans or meet other financial commitments. 

Predicting and preventing fraudulent transactions is another challenge that fintechs are using AI to solve. Using machine learning algorithms, fintech organizations are able to build more accurate fraud detection mechanisms to curb the activities of scammers. The advantage of using machine learning for fraud detection in financial systems is that the machine learning model can learn from the financial data by itself. Thus, it is able to uncover hidden patterns and make a more robust prediction compared to traditional fraud detection algorithms. AI-based fraud detection algorithms can also be used to verify insurance claims and flag fraudulent ones. 

Churn Prediction

Customer churn is an important Key Performance Index (KPI) for any organisation. Preventing customer churn is aimpoaaaustomers and improve customer engagement. Many fintechs across the world now use AI to increase customer retention by understanding customer behaviour and making data-driven decisions to retain the audience of customers.

Intelligent Customer Service

Customer service is an aspect of fintech that has been significantly transformed by AI. The use of AI in this area has drastically reduced the need for human customer care representatives and the cost associated with employing these representatives. With AI, more customers can be attended to more efficiently via chatbots, virtual assistants etc. 

Chatbots are, particularly, one of the most common uses of AI in fintech customer service. Chatbots are sophisticated conversational AI applications that can engage with customers, address complaints and basically fill in the gap of a human employee. Chatbots have now become faster and easier means for customers to fix issues they have while using fintech services.

The Future of Fintech With AI

The use of AI in financial technology extends beyond risk assessment, churn prediction and intelligent customer service. Areas like payment processing and sentiment analysis are also being transformed by AI. Organizations like MasterCard and Visa have been able to improve the quality of their services by leveraging AI to achieve this. Personalized banking and financial services will define the future of financial technology. Better experiences will be developed for each customer in a unique and personalized manner. This may be impossible without AI. The future of fintech is geared towards smarter and more intelligent services, with AI steering the wheel to this future.

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The Growth of Africa’s Fintech Ecosystem In H1 2021

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Image Credit: Kabiru Yusuf

At the epicenter of Africa’s rapidly evolving tech ecosystem lies the fast growing fintech sector. A huge chunk of Africa’s growth in the tech startup scene can be credited to fintech startups. As the proliferation of fintech services grows deeper in this year 2021, fintechs have, once again, led the pace for the growth of Africa’s bubbling tech startup ecosystem. The first half of 2021 has seen multiple funding rounds and deals that have shaped the fintech sphere, some of which would be highlighted in this review of major fintech deals that were sealed in the first half of 2021.

Flutterwave

In the first quarter of 2021, Flutterwave, which recently joined the league of African unicorns, raised $170 million in a Series C funding round, valuing it at over $1 billion. The funding round which was led by Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger global sums up the total capital raised by Flutterwave to $225 million. Another major highlight from Flutterwave this year is its collaboration with PayPal to enable African merchants to connect with the over 377 million PayPal accounts worldwide, via the new Flutterwave pay with PayPal feature. 

Kuda

Fast rising digital bank, Kuda, is leading the penetration of innovative digital banking services in Africa. To deepen its growth and penetration, the company raised $25 million dollars earlier in March this year. The Series A round was led by Valar ventures, a VC firm co-founded by Peter Thiel. This funding round brings the company’s raised capital to a total of $36.6 million. In February 2021, Kuda also processed transactions worth $2.2 billion, helping it gain significant traction. At this pace, Kuda is definitely on its way to becoming a giant in Africa’s nascent digital banking sector.

Adumo

Adumo is the largest independent payment processor in South Africa. The Adumo group is comprised of companies including Humble, Innervation Pan African Payment Solutions and Innervation Rewards, Sureswipe and iKhokha. The company offers digital payment solutions to the businesses and merchants within Africa. In the first quarter of the year, Adumo raised $15 million from International Finance Corporation(IFC) to expand its provision of digital payment solutions across Africa, especially for small and medium-sized African businesses.

 

Cowrywise

Cowrywise is a Nigerian Fintech startup that offers digital wealth management and financial planning services. In January, the company raised  $3 million in a pre-Series A funding round that was led by Quona capital. The startup also recently obtained an SEC license approving its operation as a fund manager.

Mono

Three months after its acceptance into Y Combinator in February, Nigerian fintech startup Mono closed a $2 million investment to advance their mission of helping digital businesses in Africa access their customers’ financial and identity data. At the moment, Mono has raised a total of $2.625 million.

Bankly

In Nigeria where cash still remains unrivalled as king, Bankly is striving to digitise financial services and provide these financial services to the millions of underserved Africans. In March, a seed round led by Vault provided an investment of $2 million to Bankly towards achieving its goal of serving the unbanked. This investment will help Bankly expand its customer base and service offerings.

Appzone

Appzone is a fintech software provider that has carved a name for itself as one of the few African companies that build technology solutions to support the services of local fintech service providers. At the beginning of the second quarter (Q2), Appzone raised $10 million in a series A round led by CardinalStone, a Nigerian investment banking firm. This investment is intended to help Appzone become a pan-African fintech. 

Chipper Cash

Shortly after raising $30 million in November 2020, Chipper Cash raised an additional $100 million in a Series C round in May 2021. The round was led by SVB capital, a first time investor in African startups. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos also participated in the investment round. The Series C round caps the total funding of the three-year old company at $152.2 million. 

Stitch

Attempting to change the game play in the African API fintech sphere is South African fintech startup Stitch. This year, Stitch joins the line-up of African fintechs who are setting the tone of growth in the fintech ecosystem through progressive partnerships and closing multimillion dollar deals. Via a seed round, the company raised $4 million in the first quarter of the year, making it the current largest financing round by an API fintech startup in Africa. 

The Second Half of 2021(H2 2021) Appears To Be Even More Promising

Within the first six months of this year, African startups have raised over 1 billion dollars, setting a new record for startup financing in the continent. The growth of the fintech ecosystem has been astonishing so far. However, considering the tempo of funding in the first half of the year as well as the impending fintech deals and the various promising new fintech startups, the second half of the year may be even far better than the former. Regardless of how things turn out in this second half, the first half alone has provided enough reasons to be proud of the growth of the fintech ecosystem in Africa.

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