My Blockchain Adventures in Africa
By Shawn Gordon for his blog
In December 2017 I had an opportunity to discover the Kenyan based Nurucoin ICO and write up a spotlight article on it. As sometimes happens, I develop an affinity for the person/company that I talked to when putting these articles together and in this case, I kept in contact with CEO Isaac Muthui.
I would answer questions for him and point out information to him that would be helpful for his project. After a couple months he invited me to come and visit their company in Kenya, they were interested in my opinions on technology they were building. I agreed to come because, why not, a trip to Africa. I wasn’t compensated for the trip or for this article, but my expenses were covered, I mention that in the interest of full disclosure. What I discovered in Kenya and about Isaac and the goals for Nurucoin, got me thinking in some extremely big pictures.
Of the many things I did on the trip, one of them was to visit the village that Isaac was born in. This was about a 3 hour drive from Nairobi and the last 10 miles or so was on a dirt road that can only generously be called a road. Isaac’s mother still teaches at the school that he grew up in, the main difference is that they have paper now to take notes and do tests. When Isaac went to school there, up through 5th grade, they would do their tests in the dirt with their fingers due to lack of supplies. The buildings almost look like the result of a recent archeological dig, rather than a place of learning. The students have paper and books now, but as you can see in this picture, they are not in good shape.
The children all wear uniforms to school, but just as when Isaac went to school, they are still without shoes. They walk between 1 and 5 kilometers each direction, each day in the dirt so that they can get an education, so determined to improve their lot in life. This is exactly what Isaac did, starting out in a village, living in a thatch hut, no shoes or supplies, taking tests in the dirt, he went on to university and got a degree in Computer Science. In addition, he holds a Diploma and Higher Diploma in Management Information Systems specializing in Data and Web Security and Computer Forensics.
From those humble beginnings, Mr. Muthui has gone on to form 9 companies to follow his dream of helping improve life for his fellow Africans. While we drove, around, we talked a lot about Africa and the state of economic development. Isaac could rattle off the population numbers, GDP, standing in the world economic ratings, monetary conversion rates and just about anything you’d care to know about the African nations. His energy and passion for making Africa a hub for technological innovation is palpable.
Mr. Muthuis passion now is Blockchain technology and his Nurucoincryptocurrency and Nuruchain technology platform. Financial issues, such as volatile currencies and fluctuating exchange rates as well as government corruption and too many middlemen in between transactions in Africa, have led to an environment where you have a large population of destitute poor and then people who are wealthy and very little in between. In Kenya the natural resources are significant and there is no reason that they can’t be utilized in a less corrupt fashion so that more people can make more money. The work ethic is strong in Kenya and it is amazing how much effort people go through to better themselves, but there is also a propensity to get into a safe path, go to school, go to university, get a job with the government and do that till you die. There is no such thing a telecommuting which leads to unbelievable traffic problems in the cities, where it can literally take you an hour to travel 5 miles. The lost productivity is staggering from wasted time. Getting more people educated in skills that they can use remotely around the world, will bring more money into the economy and reduce the stress on their infrastructure.
The goal for Nurucoin is to establish a digital currency that will initially be used in the Blazebay system (similar to Amazon, but smaller) and set the groundwork for a cryptocurrency that can bypass the volatility and exchange rates that currently exist across Africa. In parallel will be the development of an enabling technology similar to Ethereum called Nurublock. This framework will allow other companies to more easily develop blockchain based technologies to solve other problems. Mr. Muthui intends to create training programs that can be deployed to help citizens learn about Blockchain generally and how to develop for Nurublock in particular.
The vision is huge and many people are getting on board with Mr. Muthui’s vision. While I was there, Kenyan government Minster for ICT called Isaac and setup a meeting to discuss what he was doing, the minister is very passionate about blockchain and getting Kenya to embrace blockchain technology. There are naysayers of course and people who didn’t think of it first are prone to try and tear it down, but there seems to be no stopping Isaac and the momentum he has been creating for Nurucoin. I feel honored to have been there as this was getting off the ground, it is going to be a game changer in Africa. When we look back in a few years at how it all started, we’re going to be amazed at where it is. Keep on eye on Nurucoin and Isaac Muthui.