Ethiopian Government collaborate with Blockchain industry

Blockchain technology holds an excellent promise in Ethiopia, which is the largest producer in Africa, but it is getting a foothold in the country, and it is a challenge, because of its constraining bureaucracy. There is one blockchain company which is finding inroads by directly collaborating with the government.

IOHK & Ethiopian government agree

IOHK, which is the company behind the Cardano blockchain, has announced a partnership with the Ethiopian government to explore how the blockchain technology could benefit the country. As part of that, IOHK offers to train up to 100 Ethiopian software developers in the Haskell programming language.

On the 3rd of May, 2018, Charles Hoskinson, who is the CEO at IOHK, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Minister Getahun Mekuria Kuma. It is an official partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology. The signing took place during a blockchain forum at the ministry.

While speaking to forum attendees, the minister said:

“Today is an excellent day for Ethiopia.”

He also hinted that the most exceptional use case for blockchain technology is going to be tracking the main export of the country. He said:

“In Ethiopia, we were working on the possibility to adopt the blockchain technology for marketing of agricultural products, especially for coffee.”

The government buy-in is actually crucial for establishing any large scale business or technology in Ethiopia. John O’Connor, the director of the African operations at IOHK, told Bitcoin Magazine:

“If you do not have it, it will not occur. The Ministry and Dr. Getahan have been integral parts of the work that we have done so far.”

While IOHK is probably going to provide free Haskell training, the ministry is going to help IOHK to recruit students for the course, as well as help in navigating the business environment in the country.

Cardano, which was launched in October, last year, is written in Haskell, which is a functional programming language. Even though Haskell is more challenging to learn than more other popular languages, such as Java or C++, it is a perfect match for formal verification – a method for ensuring that mission-critical code behaves the way it is intended to do so.

Last time, IOHK taught a Haskell course, and all of the students were male. But, this time, the tables are going to turn. The minister wants the first batch of students in Ethiopia to be female, to promote, as well as highlight the significance and participation of women in coding. The ideal applicant is going to be a recent graduate of an Ethiopian University with computer science or some other related degree.

Hoskinson also told Bitcoin Magazine that the next Haskell course could probably start as soon as July this year, and it would likely be in the Blockchain Research Lab of IOHK in Edinburgh, Scotland. IOHK, which has previously held courses in Athens, as well as Barbados, says that it plans to hire promising graduates of the classes as full-time developers, to work with IOHK.

Coffee Connection

Coffee is the vital export for Ethiopia, and it is the home to 100 million people. In fact, many thought that coffee origin from Ethiopia. After the 15th century, it started to spreading far and wide through the Ottoman Empire. Unlike in Brazil, as well as some other areas in the world, coffee grows freely in the plateaus of Ethiopia.

O’Connor, who is a 27-year-old and half Ethiopian and half Irish, said:

“This is the only place that exists in the world in which coffee grows. You do not have to do anything. It is just there. Literally, you can forage around and pick it off the ground.”

As a result of that, just a little investment has been made in improving production efficiency of coffee, he explained.

About 95% of the coffee that is grown in Ethiopia comes from some small holdings and rural farms as well, and there are some things which can be done to increase the coffee yield, as well as to improve marketing. One of the most significant challenges, for example, is to prove the origins of the coffee. That is where the blockchain steps.

The idea is that blockchain technology, especially a private or permission version of the technology like Cardano Enterprise, would permit all of the participants in the supply chain to trace and track coffee from rural farms to wholesale buyers.

For instance, once when the data is stored on the blockchain, the purchasers are going to know for sure if the coffee is pure and where it came from, and regulators will gain information about any pesticides that are used in production.

Financially, the applications of blockchain also have the potential to make payments, as well as extend loans to farmers. O’Connor explained:

“Coffee drives the economy here. There is so much potential in blockchain products to make the economy better.”

IOHK is also not the first company to contemplate tracing coffee on the blockchain. Starbucks is another one which is working on a blockchain-based project to locate coffee with producers in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Rwanda, while Colorado-based startup bext360 uses blockchain technology to trace coffee that is coming from Uganda.

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