Background

In 2017, I started a small business which sells African homemade products. Muqafrik was an ecommerce platform I created after my one year coding and business development fellowship at UWAT (Unlocking Women and Technology), an all women technology fellowship created by Ghana’s Tech Hub, iSpace and supported by Google For Startups.

Initially, the company grew naturally because I believe I was solving a unique need. I attracted companies that chose to go the traditional way by using most of my products: African made aprons, wooden bowls, calabash plates etc. Then all of a sudden, I started getting purchase and shipment requests from places like Germany, Holland, Italy, United Kingdom and the USA. I was also approached by people from other African countries.

That was when I started facing issues of high cost of shipping and high cost or almost impossible ways to send and receive money. These problems which later resulted in little or no business at all took a negative toll on my business. I had to put a pause on the business and restrategize on how to move forward.

One day while still unsure about how I will move forward with strategy on my business, I came across a book written by veteran African business consultants; Jake Bright and Aubrey Hruby named, “The Next Africa”. I was excited first of all by the optimism they shared despite the many challenges in Africa. I can’t help but share their perspective. As a true daughter of the land, I also believe in the rising of Africa and how we the sons and daughters of the land have a deep responsibility to share in developing the continent.

Africa has many challenges: unstable and high cost of electricity, large digital divide, high rates of illiteracy, low rate of digital adoption, little or no infrastructure like motorable transport systems which help with the easy movement of goods, people and services.

Notwithstanding, the problems in Africa are also the reason for us to create more solutions through adopting relevant technologies like the new and emerging blockchain technology.

In 2007, Kenya adopted its first mobile payment, MPESA. While GSMA data shows the first mobile money provider launched in East Asia and the Pacific in 2001 (Smartmoney) and 2004 (GCash), it was MPESA’s March 2007 launch in Kenya that popularised the model, making it a global phenomenon. This technology was a result of the deep problem of sending money securely and that is exactly what mobile money solved. That is how I believe blockchain can be a game changer in Africa even though adoption rate now is slow compared to other continents. 

Blockchain and how it solves the problems of Africa

Blockchain is a chain of blocks that solves the problem of centralization, hence it is said that Blockchains are decentralized digital ledgers that utilise cryptographic algorithms to verify the creation and transfer of digitally represented information over a peer-to-peer network. The Economist calls the blockchain technology “the trust machine”, because people who typically have no particular confidence in each other can collaborate without having to go through a neutral central authority. (AIBC, 2022).

Blockchain technology is increasingly advancing socio-economic growth for ecommerce and entrepreneurship in Africa and the rest of the globe. The adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies are offering users multiple options and scalability towards ease of doing business transactions across the African continent. This has made the African continent progressively embrace mobile cash and virtual currencies.

Blockchains have the potential to help African countries address their problems and more. They can be used to build new payment systems, stock markets, democratic protocols, and trade systems. In addition, they can be used to create new relationships between African citizens and institutions.

For example, blockchain-enabled payment systems will allow people to pay for goods and services instantly. This can replace financial industries in Africa, which have historically required days or even weeks to settle a transaction. The AfCFTA’s PAPSS system is an example of such innovation to aid cross-border seamless trade transactions in Africa. 

A recent study shows that Nigeria alone has the highest rate of crypto adoption in Africa, with over USD 3 billion of transactions recorded in June 2021 alone. There are several fintech companies growing by the day, offering employment to the teeming population of the youths as well as facilitating cross-border transactions using blockchain technology.

Today, Africa is the third fastest-growing cryptocurrency market globally, steadily attracting large investments. In the African Blockchain Report 2021 published by CVVC, blockchain startups on the continent have raised $91million in the first quarter of 2022, a staggering 1,688 percent in cash flow compared to Q1’s growth of 149 percent in 2021.  

The adoption rate between July 2020 and June 2021 is over 1,200 with adoption rates very high in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana. Throughout 2021, $127 million was raised representing a 0.5 percent share of total global blockchain funding with 96 percent of those venture dollars going to Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Seychelles. Of the money raised, Fintech businesses accounted for $67 million (53 percent) of all blockchain funding.

Predicting the future and the role of responsible product management

Africa can create lasting prosperity by creating businesses whose visions and missions are very clear in solving the many challenges it faces. Most firms using blockchain technology must be very resilient in producing sustainable solutions to its many inhabitants.

Product managers in these firms have a key role in ensuring that products are well suited for the continent. Today Africa is known to be the third largest adopter of blockchain technology and I believe very soon we may become the continent that uses this technology  the most. 

Product management is the most important function in an organisation, with the term “product” meaning both products and service offerings. A product manager is the person who identifies the customer need and the larger business objectives that a product or feature will fulfil, articulates what success looks like for a product, and rallies a team to turn that vision into a reality. 

A blockchain product manager must be willing to rally and work with the team to come out with successful products and services that solve real problems. In order to successfully create products and services, a product manager or team must have a deep understanding of the blockchain system; understand decentralised and distributed ledgers, master blockchain infrastructure development, be familiar with blockchain systems etc.

SKILLS ON HOW  TO BECOME A BLOCKCHAIN PRODUCT MANAGER

Understand decentralized and distributed ledgersBe able to develop blockchain-based solutionsMaster blockchain infrastructure developmentBe familiar with blockchain platforms 
Be an expert in blockchain standards and ecosystems Have knowledge of industry insights and KPIsUnderstand Blockchain architecture Learn to develop blockchain product specification
Be a business and technology AcumenAbility to collaborate/lead design and development initiatives Get experience on blockchain product development processHave cross-discipline broad skills 
Be a professional negotiatorDevelop unique leadership styleGet a degree in computer science (an advantage)Sign up for an enterprise blockchain certification
Source- 101 Blockchains https://101blockchains.com/blockchain-product-manager/ 

In conclusion, just like Jake and Aubrey posited in their book, The Next Africa, I strongly believe Africa is on to something exciting and I personally cannot wait to see where all these technologies in AI, blockchain, etc play out. I believe it will turn out to be the best. We are in for a massive paradigm shift!

Disclaimer

I am excited to announce that I got into the Aya Web3 Fellowship. Thanks to Aya and Coinbase Giving for the opportunity to upskill and participate in the web3 ecosystem.


In anticipation to remaining in the Fellowship, we were tasked to write an article in any topic of our choice within our learning context (Product Management).I decided to wirte an article on the crucial role responsible product management plays in solving problems especially in Africa. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Appendix

https://aibc.world/news/blockchain-technology-the-future-of-africas-digital-economy/#:~:text=Africa’s%20blockchain%20ecosystem%20has%20been,between%20Q1%202021%20and%202022.
https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/crypto-continent-the-rise-of-african-blockchain-startups-57680
https://www.nepad.org/blog/exploring-blockchain-enabled-technologies-strengthen-africas-continental-wide-trade-systems
https://guardian.ng/news/how-blockchain-elevates-africa/
https://thepaypers.com/expert-opinion/the-evolution-of-blockchain-technology-in-africa–1255285
https://furtherafrica.com/2022/08/29/blockchain-technology-solving-african-problems/

https://101blockchains.com/blockchain-product-manager/

4 Comments

  • Charity
    Posted November 23, 2022 3:41 pm 0Likes

    I welcome all inputs to make this article a better one. Go ahead and let me know what you think.
    Charity

  • windaddyindia
    Posted May 22, 2023 11:35 pm 0Likes

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  • Johnnyhes
    Posted September 13, 2023 11:44 pm 0Likes

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