Over the course of 5th June – 16th June 2023, I had the opportunity to teach a Financial Technology and Blockchain postgraduate course to a group of students enrolled in the newly launched Master of Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science degree at the University of Antananarivo, the leading academic institution in Madagascar. The opportunity to teach the course was a result of a collaboration between the University of Antananarivo, the University of Cape Town’s Financial Innovation Hub and the Algorand Foundation.
The cohort of 20 students comprised a mix of working professionals and students with backgrounds in mathematics, economics, statistics and engineering. During the course, the students learnt about financial systems, innovation and disruption, blockchain fundamentals and a hands on deep dive into the Algorand blockchain – including the Algorand Python SDK and smart contracts (using PyTeal). Reflecting on the teaching experience, I appreciated that in this digital age, development of blockchain skills at tertiary level is absolutely necessary (and is the bare minimum), especially if Africa is going to realise its potential and produce locally grown solutions to provide employment and economic agency. It was an incredible privilege to be part of this initiative, and to be involved in hands-on skills development and knowledge transfer in Madagascar.
One of the speakers at the event, a representative from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) spoke about how they issued a Australian dollar stablecoin called the A$DC and are involved in a number of central bank digital currency initiatives in the region. Some quick googling revealed that National Australia Bank (NAB), a rival to ANZ Bank has been piloting a stablecoin called the AUDN. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to an underlying fiat (government issued) currency and allow settling of transactions on blockchain technology in real-time. Issuing of stablecoins by ANZ and NAB – both in the ‘big four’ Australian banks – demonstrates one of the roles banks can play in driving innovation in the web3 economy, leveraging their brand visibility, domain knowledge and reputation.
The summer school, also showcased/mentioned a number of innovative web3 solutions and opportunities for blockchain in the region. Some of these include:
CValid – a credentialing system for education and recruitment from Monash University. This innovative solution is set to revolutionise the education and recruitment industry, providing a secure and efficient way of verifying credentials.
Powerledger – a peer-to-peer renewable energy blockchain trading platform that allows consumers and producers to track, trace and trade every kilowatt of energy that is produced off-grid.
FreshChain – a blockchain-based system to protect Australian exports and provide assurances to trading partners and consumers about the safety and quality of Australia’s produce. FreshChain is a recipient of the Australia Traceability Grants program.
RedBelly blockchain – an Australian blockchain platform developed by the University of Sydney andthe Australian government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
The Australian governments Clean energy regulator considering blockchain solutions for “Guarantee of Origin” assurance scheme to verify emissions associated with hydrogen, renewable electricity and potentially other products made in Australia such as metals or biofuels.
Sustainable supply chains e.g.tracking and tracing emissions across a supply chain – representing emissions digitally on a blockchain allows supply chain partners to make emissions data readily available and to share it with the next participant in the chain.
Major research themes I observed from the conference included:
Formal and quantitative analysis of blockchain platforms i.e. blockchain network benchmarking.
Post-quantum computing and blockchain security.
Micropayments and streaming payments using channels.
Special mention and thanks to ACE-SIP and the Algorand Foundation for organising the event and the opportunity to participate.
Last month I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the premier event of the XRPL Ledger (XRPL) community – The Apex Developer Summit in Las Vegas, USA. At the event, which is hosted annually by Ripple and the XRPL Foundation I got to meet and engage with the XRPL community, which included David Schwartz, a co-founder and current CTO at Ripple.
Before jumping into a summary of David Schwartz talk on The next iteration of XRPL, recall that XRPL is a decentralised, public blockchain led by a global developer community – think of XRPL as a public good. XRPL makes use of a federated byzantine agreement algorithm that enables fast & cheap transactions with finality achieved in 3 to 5 seconds (in simpler terms, transactions with XRP or XRPL-issued assets complete in 3 – 5 seconds). You can learn more about the XRPL here and join the community on discord here.
Now, back to David Schwartz’s keynote, he started the talk with a look at the XRPL design fundamentals which include:
An integrated decentralised exchange (DEX) – the XRPL has features an inbuilt DEX since the beginning (circa 2012).
Invariant checking – the ledger has an ability to check for bugs without corrupting the ledger.
Rekeyable accounts – XRPL features rekeyable accounts, which is a feature that allows for changing the transaction signing key without changing receiving key.
Issued assets – XRPL supports the ability to issue custom assets (e.g. stablecoins or anything fungible that has value and behaves like currency) with ease.
David went on to note some of the exciting XRPL innovations which include:
XLS-20d – a proposed standard to issue NFTs on the XRPL i.e. mint/burn/hold/trade NFTs. The XLS-20d is designed for scale.
Project Clio – a development initiative to create massive storage reduction for servers that handle queries from clients. This will increase throughput, reduce cost to access the ledger and allow the ledger to scale (bearing in mind that the ledger cannot go any faster than consensus can).
Hooks -a feature of XRPL that allows developers to add smart-contract like functionality to the XRPL. Hooks are small, efficient pieces of code being defined on an XRPL account, allowing logic to be executed before and/or after XRPL transactions.
Sidechains – a feature of XRPL that allows anyone to run a sidechain to the XRP Ledger while having the freedom to decide how their chains work. You want XRPL mechanics but assets from other chains e.g. running an EVM sidechain to allow even more developers easy access to XRPL’s feature set and bring existing Solidity-based smart contracts written for EVM-compatible chains to the XRPL. Sidechains allow you to innovate at the blockchain level i.e. L1 level e.g. if you wish to tweak the TPS you can do so. Sidechains ultimately provide horizontal scalability.
In addition to David’s keynote, the summit included other keynotes on NFTs, blockchain and law, and new ways to build with some of the ecosystem tools. Here are links to the keynotes:
And then I earlier I mentioned that I got to speak at the conference. I gave a talk on how to send and receive XRPL-based assets in low-tech environments e.g. in place where there is no internet connectivity or smartphones. Here is the link to my talk – Transacting in Low-Tech Environments, Julian Kanjere – I will write a post on this soon.
After recently road tripping across Namibia with some friends, I would best describe it as a country with endless stretches of road, an abundance of adventure activities, stunning landscapes and most importantly, friendly nationals who take great pride in the quality of Namibian beer, meat and biltong!
Our road trip took us across four provinces in Namibia – Karas Region (Keetmanshoop), Hardap Region (Mariental), Khomas Region (Windhoek) and Erongo Region (Swakopmund and Walvis Bay). Although we trekked across early July, which is mid-winter season, the day time temperatures consistently ranged in the mid-twenties, much to our delight. Below are some of the pictures from the roadtrip, enjoy.
P.S.Want to be notified when there is a new post on my blog? Enter your email address and click Subscribe below.
It would seem as if we were just celebrating the start of the new year just yesterday and now it’s March already! I’ve decided to pen a flashback post with a selection of 17 pictures that I captured during the course of 2017 across Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. Enjoy!
It is that time of the year when outdoor events, camping and music festivals become the order of the day weekend. Summer has come around (not quite in Cape Town), the sunny outdoors are calling and there is really no good reason to stay cooped up indoors! Some of the music festivals around this time of the year include Lake of Stars (Malawi), Rocking the Daisies (Western Cape, South Africa), OppiKoppi (Limpopo, South Africa), Synergy Live (Western Cape, South Africa), Vic Falls Carnival (Zimbabwe). My inspiration for penning this camping checklist is that every time I start packing for a music festival or a camping trip, I can never seem to find the checklist I would have used before and have to write a new one. This will particularly be useful if you are new to music festivals and/or camping!
It has been a little over three weeks ago since I took part in AfrikaBurn, the annual Burning Man like festival in the Karoo.
Describing AfrikaBurn as a festival probably conjures up thoughts of a dance / music. However, AfrikaBurn was so much more than that, it was more of an experience. Some of my best highlights included experiencing a gifting economy in a decommodified society, being exposed to a heightened form of creativity and expression that is otherwise lacking in everyday life and meeting a group of Zimbabweans (my birth country) who drove 41 hours from Zimbabwe to the Karoo in a nineties Land Cruiser!
Below are some pictures which hopefully are a glimpse of the experience.
At the beginning of this year (2017), whilst recharging my batteries, I embarked on a day trip to Chinhoyi Caves National Park. The park is located in the small town of Chinhoyi, approximately 120km away from Harare (Zimbabwe’s capital city). There was something rather special about walking through the lush green vegetation and seeing the fish swimming in the deep blue water illuminated by the piercing sun rays.