Blockchain DevFest 2023
The highly anticipated Blockchain DevFest, organized by Block Bunch, brought together a vibrant community of developers, crypto enthusiasts, and industry experts in Kampala. This annual event, now in its second edition, took place on June 24 at MoTIV. From exciting presentations to an engaging hackathon and networking opportunities, the DevFest showcased the latest advancements in blockchain technology and its transformative impact on various sectors.
By Anna B Kiwanuka
Uganda is home to a growing crypto and Web3 community. On June 24, Kampala hosted the second edition of Blockchain DevFest, organized by Block Bunch in partnership with Celo, Muda, Worldcoin, Ngeni Labs, and Binusu.
The event which attracted a great number of local and foreign blockchain entrepreneurs and enthusiasts was aimed at ideating, discussing, and collaboratively finding blockchain solutions for Uganda and Africa and understanding ways the community can work towards adopting blockchain technologies.
The ideathon process started a week before the main event. It included generating and refining news ideas and blockchain solutions that address Africa’s needs and challenges. Some of the ideas were showcased at the event.
Some of the topics discussed include Blockchain, Web 3.0 and its future, Leveraging NFTs for social good, DApp development, and the blockchain regulatory landscape among others.
While Uganda has witnessed significant growth in cryptocurrency and blockchain activities, the local regulatory bodies have shown reluctance toward embracing these technologies. The Central Bank, for instance, has expressed concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, citing the absence of robust consumer safeguards and a comprehensive regulatory framework to oversee their utilization. In addition, the Central Bank has cautioned investors about the risks associated with multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes, which have become prevalent in Uganda. Furthermore, the Central Bank issued a circular instructing all payment licensees to refrain from facilitating cryptocurrency transactions.
Commenting further on this Timothy Kajja, a Legal Associate at KTA Advocates stated that while regulators enforce laws on decentralization to protect consumers and blockchain service providers and developers, some of them have failed to understand what they are regulating. He further noted that while most Central banks have expressed enthusiasm to participate in the field through Central Bank Digital Currencies(CBDCs), feedback and performance from countries like Nigeria, that have fully instituted such measures, have been subpar.
In spite of regulatory warnings discouraging the use of cryptocurrencies, Ugandans remain undeterred and continue to exhibit a strong interest in digital assets. With high unemployment rates witnessed among the youth in the country, many Ugandans are turning to digital assets for investment and trading.
As a result, an encouraging trend is emerging with the rise of local blockchain startups in Uganda. This surge in entrepreneurial activity within the blockchain space signifies a promising future for the technology in the country. Despite the challenges posed by regulatory concerns, the growing presence of homegrown blockchain initiatives demonstrates the resilience and potential of the industry in Uganda.
The event concluded on a high note with the announcement of prize winners for the best blockchain solutions. YOB, an innovative ticketing application built on the Celo Blockchain, was awarded a $300 prize. Additionally, the AI NFT generator received a $200 prize.