On the third and fourth day of July (July 3-4), 2019 — all airways and roads will lead to the Kampala Serena Conference Center as CryptoSavannah and the Blockchain Association of Uganda host the second edition of the Africa Blockchain Conference.
CryptoSavannah and the Blockchain Association of Uganda are collaborating with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance to organize this pivotal conference that will stimulate conversations on Africa’s readiness and the preparations the continent is undertaking to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
On Tuesday morning, journalists were hosted by the organizers to highlight some of the key moments since the 2018 conference and the newsmen also listened as information about the preparations for this year’s conference was relayed.
Unlike last year where the discussions centered around Blockchain, this year all emerging technologies (artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, blockchain, drones, robotics, big data and so on) will dominate the exhibitions, panel discourses, and competitions that will be held at the event.
“Africa 4.0: Preparing Africa for the 4th Industrial Revolution” is the theme of this year’s event.
An expo dubbed “Africa 4.0 Tech Expo” will also feature at the Africa Blockchain Conference 2019 to “showcase the leading technology innovations and applications in Africa.”
Expectations at Africa Blockchain Conference 2019
In the first edition, according to official data, the conference hosted over 800 people from 32 countries who tapped timely knowledge from reputable speakers, notable among them, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni; Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a former president of Mauritius; Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance; and Patrick Mweheire, the CEO of Stanbic Bank Uganda.
This year, the Conference and Tech Expo will host 3,000 people, comprising the public and private sector, experts and leaders from global technology companies, entrepreneurs, innovators, youth and government representatives, officials have promised.
And these people will consume data generated from discussions on (i) Africa’s readiness for the 4th Industrial Revolution, (ii) Fintech, payment systems and digital financial services, (iii) The future of work and education, (iv) SDGs and technology for impact.
Why the 4th Industrial Revolution
Before the 4th Industrial Revolution was ushered in, the world went through the first three industrial revolutions that gave birth to steam power, electricity and digitization.
And for every industrial revolution, there are fundamental changes that happen, affecting humanity socially, economically, environmentally and politically. This is why some companies that were valuable about 10 years ago have been replaced by new internet companies.
And most of these companies that generate a lot of revenue play significant roles in how the globe operates: you’ve seen how digital advertising has influenced politics, people are losing jobs due to automation and so on. According to McKinsey, up to 375 million workers may need to change their occupational category by 2030, and digital work could contribute $2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
That being said, it is through such conferences that policymakers, industry experts, academia and other stakeholders can gather to share ideas on how to move forward.
Speaking to newsmen on Tuesday, CryptoSavannah CEO, and Chairperson of the Africa Blockchain Conference, Kwame Rugunda called on Africa to be proactive, despite the continent being a late adopter of emerging technologies.
He added that more global entities are looking at expanding their operations into Africa, and Africa should, therefore, prepare to receive and fully optimize this interest for its development.
“With the right foundation for emerging technologies, we will have already done half the work of attracting the right interest to our nations,” Rugunda emphasized.
Herbert Olowo, the Chief Information Officer at Stanbic Bank Uganda said, “as a leading financial services provider in Uganda, Stanbic is proud to be associated with Africa Blockchain conference which seeks to discuss new opportunities presented by technological advances and how to leverage the 4th industrial revolution to not only improve our banking processes but also reduce our cost to serve.”
He said the banking industry can explore ways of using blockchain technology to not only reduce the cost of processing payments but also create new products and services that can generate important new revenue streams.
“Technological advances such as blockchain technology, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) have the potential to lower operational costs and risks but also help us to better understand our customer journeys and deepen relationships as such help us to provide innovative and customized solutions that address their needs,” he said.
For his part, Commissioner in the Ministry of ICT, Julius Torach, said that government was more than keen to play its part in shaping the future of the nation. “On 8th April this year, the government launched the National expert taskforce on emerging technologies to make recommendations on how best government can leverage these technologies to transform our economy,” he said.
The Africa Blockchain Conference 2019 will be graced by President Museveni and his Sierra Leone counterpart, Julius Maada Bio.
Though the list of other speakers is yet to be released, officials say they have already received requests from several experts on 4IR from across the globe.
Since last conference
On May 23, it will be a year since the 2018 Africa Blockchain Conference was held. To celebrate its first anniversary, the Conference has some major milestones to show for it.
During the conference, ICT and National Guidance Minister Frank Tumwebaze promised that he would appoint a National expert task force to champion the adoption of Emerging Technologies in Uganda. A 32-member team was unveiled this past April.
The Bank of Uganda has also set up a team to monitor and advise on the use of Blockchain technologies, regulations have been drafted by the Capital Markets Authority to guide on the use of cryptocurrencies.
The Chinese billionaire Changpeng Zhao, who contributed enormously to the success of the previous conference launched Binance in Uganda and promised continued support to innovators in that sector, more apps and innovations have been developed and the brand of Uganda in the innovation space continues to rise globally.