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First Ever Blockchain DevFest Launched in Uganda

Uganda hosts the inaugural Blockchain DevFest.

By Anna B Kiwanuka

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Uganda is home to a growing cryptocurrency community. Today, Kampala hosted the first-ever Blockchain DevFest which was sponsored by  Block Bunch, a community of developers, in partnership with Yellow card, Celo, Muda, Nile One Academy, Binusu, MoTIV, and The Innovation Village. The event which attracted a number of local and international blockchain enterprises and enthusiasts was aimed at finding blockchain solutions for Uganda and Africa and understanding ways we can work towards adopting blockchain technologies.

Blockchain technology has gained global attention because it has built trust into systems used for the transfer of money and any kind of data. Additionally, we are seeing many other solutions being invented via blockchain such as Crypto Savannah’s recent refugee digital identity solution. With such significant adoption and growth, Block Bunch hosted a few industry experts to enlighten crypto and blockchain enthusiasts on how they can utilize blockchain.

Speaking at the event, Umar Sebyala, Ecosystem leader for Uganda at Celo emphasized the importance of bigger crypto brands enabling crypto and blockchain adoption in Africa. He highlighted that this may be one of the notable ways of encouraging people to adopt and understand blockchain.

“It is important for bigger brands to support developing economies in adopting blockchain because this boosts blockchain awareness,” Umar said.

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Despite a growing cryptocurrency and blockchain presence in the country, local regulators have not warmed up to the idea. The Central Bank has in the past warned against the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin citing the lack of consumer protections and a proper regulatory framework to govern their use. The Central Bank also warned investors about investing in MLM schemes which are quite pervasive in Uganda. The Central Bank also recently issued a circular to all payments licensees to desist from facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. 

Commenting on this, Abel Namureba, the Head of Operations for Yellow Card in Uganda said, 

“Crypto firms now feel noticed, they are climbing a ladder to the destination up. However, at the moment the Central Bank’s biggest worry is money laundering, and we are trying to encourage them to adopt blockchain to solve such challenges. Crypto and blockchain are still benefiting a good number of Ugandans, and I am optimistic that we are on the right track to the future of finance. I believe that crypto firms are here for a lifetime.”

However, while the Bank of Uganda’s position on cryptocurrencies remains unchanged, we are seeing a good number of startups that are harnessing blockchain technology and cryptocurrency adoptionfor example Binusu and Muda, Ugandan crypto exchange platforms that are serving the growing market.

When asked about how we can boost the adoption of blockchain in Uganda, the Founder of Binusu, Brian Tweheyo remarks that Uganda is on the right track.

“We have over 800,000 registered blockchain accounts in Uganda. This proves that the market in Uganda is growing at a promising rate.” Brian said.

However, he points out that crypto education is crucial.

“We need to educate people about cryptocurrency and blockchain so that more people can adopt them. We need to spread more information so that people know more about blockchain and how it can support us in enhancing different sectors.” Brian added.

While blockchain is a great tech resource, Davin Oyesigye, Blockchain Dev Lead at Muda emphasizes that the industry needs more skilled developers, especially in Uganda since there are many technological advancements because of Web 3.

Conclusively, warnings from regulators against the use of cryptocurrencies have not slowed down Ugandans’ appetite for digital assets. With high unemployment rates witnessed among the youth in the country, many Ugandans are turning to digital assets for investment and trading.

It is therefore not surprising that we are seeing more local blockchain startups emerging.  Clearly, there is hope for the future of blockchain in Uganda.


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