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World Economic Forum publishes blockchain ‘Bill of Rights’

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, SiliconNigeria
, SiliconNigeria

COVID-19 has accelerated the development and use of emerging technology across industries. For blockchain technology to scale in its next phase, global alignment between the public and private sectors is needed.

To help individuals and companies build trust and preserve the fundamental values of blockchain technology, the World Economic Forum’s Global Blockchain Council developed the “Presidio Principles: Foundational Values for a Decentralized Future.”

Co-designed at the World Economic Forum’s offices in the Presidio of San Francisco, sixteen principles aim to protect users and preserve the values of the technology so that all can benefit.

“The blockchain ecosystem needed a baseline for designing applications that preserve the rights of users,” said Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain and Data Policy, World Economic Forum. “During our council meeting, we realized we could help curb many of the mistakes and missteps seen so far if we were able to provide developers, governments and executives with a ‘Bill of Rights’ style document.”

Rights are grouped into four broad pillars: Transparency & Accessibility – the right to information about the system; Privacy & Security – the right to data protection; Agency & Interoperability – the right for individuals to own and manage their data; and Accountability & Governance – the right for system users to understand available recourse.

The Presidio Principles

Applications built on top of blockchain-based systems should preserve the following participant rights. A participant should have access to information that would enable them to:

Understand how a service is operated, including potential risks of the service, availability of source code, and the rules and standards upon which it is based.
Understand the potential risks and benefits of a service’s use of blockchain technology.
Understand system performance expectations and where the responsibility for service delivery lies.
Understand the rights and obligations of different participants in the system.

A participant should be able to:

Create, manage, and independently store cryptographic keys.
Manage consent of data stored in third-party systems.
Port data between interoperable systems or parts of a system.
Revoke consent for future data collection.
Have access to information sufficient to facilitate system interoperability.
Assess if their data is at risk through appropriate disclosure procedures, which may include, but are not limited to, an examination of audit results, certifications, or source code.
Have their data protected in accordance with internationally recognized technical security standards.
Limit data collection to that which is necessary and data use to the purpose for which it was provided.
Verify – through third-party or self-created tools – that operations have been completed and confirmed in accordance with the system’s rules.
Access information needed to: (a) understand the system’s governance and rules and (b) pursue effective recourse mechanisms.
Opt-out of using applications that don’t treat data in accordance with internationally recognized governance and data protection standards.
Rectify demonstrably false, inaccurate, or incomplete data when necessary.

The Principles include a menu of options for how organizations or individuals can take action. A list of signatories is available to view and self-regulate/hold others accountable.

The genesis for this idea came during the first meeting of the Forum’s Global Blockchain Council in 2019. The content was developed and workshopped in sessions around the world, including at the Annual Meeting in Davos 2020 with a variety of members of the blockchain community, government officials, civil society members and business leaders. A public comment period on the developer platform GitHub was open from 10 April 2020 to 5 May 2020.

“Our Global Blockchain Council membership reflects varying ideological perspectives on what blockchain technology is appropriate for and where it is going, ranging from bitcoin maximalists to enterprise service providers,” Warren said. “This highly opinionated group came together and agreed that the blockchain community needed the foundational principles we are presenting today. Agreement from across Council members, despite their divergent perspectives, indicates the critical need for a values-based document like this in order to ensure that the technology remains true to its roots as the application layer starts to scale.”

The Forum is partnering with ecosystem leaders from Hyperledger and Ethereum, as well as the consulting and investor communities to issue specific “Guidance Documents” around how the principles can be implemented on a more tactical level. These will further help developers, governments, executives, corporate boards, international organizations and others implement the principles and take action now.

Additionally, Global Blockchain Council members will be partnering with individual organizations, associations and membership-based entities and investors for virtual sessions on how companies can meaningfully implement the Principles in their operations.

Early Adopters and Supporters

“I accepted the nomination to Co-Chair the Global Blockchain Council because I believe despite differences in methods and philosophies, there’s a shared feeling in the blockchain ecosystem that this technology is truly disruptive, democratizing access to money and ownership of data in ways that we never could before,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer, AZA Finance. “As a founder and entrepreneur, I know that the Presidio Principles will encourage wider accessibility to emerging technologies and therefore wider potential for adopters.”

“As fiduciaries, it is our responsibility to act not only in the interest of our investors, but also in a manner that better aligns investor outcomes with the broader objectives of society,” said Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer, CoinShares. “By incorporating the Presidio Principles into our investment analysis, ownership policies, and disclosures, we will introduce a voluntary set of investment guidelines for professional asset managers allocating institutional capital into digital currencies and blockchain networks.”

“As open sourced and decentralized systems keep moving forward, we have seen how challenging it can be to build guidelines that apply to different and evolving blockchain projects, and that help teams work to solve problems together,” said Aya Miyaguchi, Executive Director, Ethereum Foundation. “Fortunately and thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, I believe that the Principles will provide a high-level framework that can really help these critical conversations continue throughout the lifespan of the technology.”

“As an open source community, we are focused on developers,” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger, Linux Foundation. “How they choose to build their solutions affects not only the users of today, but the trajectory of the technology. We are exploring ways for our community of developers to not just read and sign onto the principles – but look for ways to meaningfully integrate them into their processes.”

“Decentralized protocols are designed to enhance trust and security through transparency,” said Joseph Lubin, Founder of ConsenSys. “The Presidio Principles are a valuable next step for creating ecosystem-wide accountability to these goals. We hope all builders of Ethereum-based projects – and across the blockchain landscape – will sign on to demonstrate their commitment to the users of their systems and applications.”

“We have built our blockchain business around the key needs and requirements of our clients and we are excited to join with others to advance these principles,” said David Treat, Senior Managing Director and Global Blockchain Lead, Accenture. “Our focus is to responsibly apply this technology to drive real value with a priority on inclusion and social impact, particularly in these challenging times where there is so much potential to help.”

“The World Food Programme has been exploring blockchain technology for many years to help expand refugee choices for assistance more efficiently, transparently and securely,” said Arif Husain, Chief Economist and Director of the Food Security Analysis and Trends Service at United Nations World Food Programme. “Ensuring that the people we serve truly benefit from every blockchain deployment is of utmost importance to us. We welcome the opportunity to use these principles ourselves but also to share more widely with our peers in the International Organisations community.”

“The Presidio Principles will become a global benchmark for good governance and accountability for the next generation of decentralized technology platforms,” said Tomicah Tillemann, Founder and Director, Digital Impact and Governance Initiative, New America. “At a moment when demand for accessible digital services is surging, the Principles will help the private sector and government create solutions that offer people more control of their data, privacy, and digital rights. We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the World Economic Forum and an extraordinary group of leaders in developing this framework.”

“In our mission to empower everyone with economic freedom, we created and support Zcash as a fair and open currency,” said Zooko Wilcox, CEO of the Electric Coin Company. “Our values and commitment to high standards of user consent, security, and organizational transparency align strongly with the Presidio Principles and we look forward to their use as a standard in support of human freedoms.”

“Colombia views the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a significant opportunity for our country and we have worked to create an environment that favours and accelerates the transition to Industry 4.0,” said Victor Munoz, High Presidential Counsellor for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Colombia. “We supported the creation of the Presidio Principles – as well as guidelines and design principles for public institutions – because we wanted to ensure that progress can continue rapidly and responsibly, ensuring that basic characteristics like security and data privacy are secured for our citizens.”

“In the Digital Economy 1.0 the focus was mainly on centralized efficiency and scale, too often at the expense of individuals’ privacy and rights,” said Jen Zhu Scott, Founding Principal, Radian Partners. “The Presidio Principles are designed to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs, builders, and participants to co-create a Digital Economy 2.0 that is inclusive, transparent, and with profound respect and protection to individual digital rights so we can empower the people as well as the businesses.”

“Ongoing dialogue between all stakeholders is critical to help businesses and governments alike navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by blockchain innovation,” said Greg Medcraft, Director, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “The Presidio Principles are an important contribution to this essential dialogue”.

“Blockchain, as the Internet of Value, holds enormous potential to build a more sustainable, prosperous, healthy and just world,” said Don Tapscott, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Blockchain Research Institute. “But people and organizations will determine how and to what goals this innovation is applied. The Blockchain Research Institute was pleased to contribute to the Presidio Principles and we commit to advocate them globally to help ensure the promise of this technology is fulfilled.”

“Technology holds great potential for increasing trust and transparency – but if not deployed correctly, it also holds great risk to the world’s most vulnerable,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “We want to use these Principles in our work across the globe to ensure that the user and technology’s potential for good is at the heart of each design choice.”

“We commend the World Economic Forum’s initiative on achieving wide alignment and responsible adoption of transformative technologies,” said Linda Pawczuk, US Blockchain Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“Everledger was founded in 2015 with the mission of digital transparency,” said Leanne Kemp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Everledger. “The space has evolved over time, but it is clear that most are here to transform the way things operate for the better. We are excited to use the Principles in conversations internally and with our partners to hold each other accountable to the vision we are trying to achieve.”

“At OmiseGO, we believe that the ability for people to transfer money globally and without restrictions has become a basic human need,” said Vansa Chatikavanij, Chief Executive Officer, OmiseGO. “Our contribution towards a more financially accessible world is to launch the OMG Network to scale Ethereum transactions and lower the cost barrier, without sacrificing security. User protection and governance are critical for fintech players. The Presidio Principles is a starting point to help ensure innovation can progress with sufficient consideration.”

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Africa Region

MTN’s Ayoba Reassures Users On Privacy, Security of Messaging App

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MTN’s Ayoba Reassures Users On Privacy Security of Messaging App, SiliconNigeria

African messaging app Ayoba has assured of privacy and security protection and content suitable for younger users as people everywhere ramp up their usage of instant messaging.

MTN Group is proud to partner with this unique instant messaging platform localised for the needs of consumers across Africa.

Launched in 2019 to improve access to affordable communications, ayoba is active in 17 MTN markets, and is also available to download onto Android smartphones in numerous other markets from Google Play and via the ayoba website www.ayoba.me as an over-the-top (OTT) offering. 

Ayoba is focused on protecting users’ privacy and security:  it is not possible for messages in the app to be read by anyone else or to be shared with any third parties, including MTN.

The app features peer-to-peer private messaging which is end-to-end encrypted; ayoba treats data with the utmost care and respect in line with its privacy policy. 

All the content available on ayoba channels is curated and reviewed to ensure that its 100% family friendly and safe for younger users. A team of editors checks every post on ayoba content channels before it goes live across over 100 content channels and 120 games.  

Ayoba has also recently launched an in-app assistant, Aya, to guide new users on how to use the instant messaging app. Aya appears automatically in the app and can run a variety of interactive tutorials for key features within ayoba. 

Ayoba users can send and receive encrypted messages, share photos, videos, files, voice notes and even their location, and can also subscribe to live channels. Localised content is available through these channels that aim to entertain, educate and empower communities.

Since 2020, as COVID-19 spread across the world, ayoba’s daily lifeline data allocations on MTN’s networks in most markets allowed users free connections with family and provided them with zero-rated access to credible information through special COVID-19 channels.

10 REASONS TO USE AYOBA:

1.     FREE TO USE: ayoba is free to use. You need data to send messages and files to your contacts, but if you are on the MTN network, you will get free data every day to use the app.

2.     CHAT NOW: Instantly send and receive text and voice messages with any of your contacts.

3.     SECURE: End-to-end encryption means that messages in a conversation cannot be read by anyone else.

4.     QUICK CONNECT: Use your existing address book to quickly and easily connect you with your contacts.

5.     CHAT WITH EVERYONE: Send SMS text messages with anyone in your contact list, regardless of whether they’ve installed ayoba or not.  If the contact to whom you send a message does not have the app, the message will be delivered by SMS.  That contact can then respond by SMS and the response will come back into your app.  This is a unique technology.

6.     GROUP CHAT: The more the merrier. Set up group chats to easily communicate with friends and family in a single chat. 

7.     SHARING IS CARING: Share videos, images, audio, and other files with your contacts.

8.     LET’S MEET: Share your real-time location with your ayoba contacts.

9.     CHANNELS: Consume all content across various categories ranging from news, sports, music to entertainment and much more, all within the ayoba app.  We have over 30 content channels live in Nigeria including Pulse for entertainment, and the MTN YelloStar competition. 

10. LISTEN AND PLAY: We have a free music service in the app so you can listen to trending songs on our fantastic playlists.  We also have games that you can play, such as BattleShip, Pinball, Solitaire and more.  New content is added every day.

The app supports over 20 local languages spoken across MTN’s markets, including isiZulu, isiXhosa, Pidgin, Yoruba, Swahili, Hausa, French, Arabic, Portuguese, and English. At the end of June 2020, ayoba had two million active users. In November 2020, ayoba was named the ‘Best Mobile App of the Year’ at the Africa Digital Awards 2020, acknowledging Africa’s first super-app, which offers users free instant messaging, mobile commerce and interactive entertainment

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Africa Region

Kinyungu Ventures Calls for Changes to VC Strategy in Africa

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Kinyungu Ventures Calls for Changes to VC Strategy in Africa, SiliconNigeria

East African venture advisory firm, Kinyungu Ventures has published a white paper Chasing Outliers: Why Context Matters for Early Stage Investing in Africa that has foundthat there continues to be a wide misalignment between traditional venture capital models and the African market.

The team behind the report is now calling for a broadening of approaches to institutional investment on the continent.

Speaking with 100 Pan-African founders, investors, and LPs across 15 African countries, the research suggests investors should prioritize investing structures and practices that reflect the realities of operating in Africa. This includes adopting more flexible investing structures with longer time horizons. 

According to the paper, there are multiple mismatches between key characteristics of Silicon Valley VC and African markets, which influence how startups and funds maneuver as well as what results they expect and produce. Findings show that African markets are large, but also fragmented, and its consumers have limited purchasing power.

Furthermore, consumers on the continent are difficult to acquire and retain, yet the sheer size of the African market also presents a real opportunity for profit once the environment is clearly understood. The paper’s key recommendations for funds include:

  • Adopting more focused investment strategies, such as investing in b2b companies or cross-subsidizing a portfolio with less risky, steady return assets 
  • Considering non-unicorn investing models geared at more resilient companies, with returns distributed more widely across the portfolio
  • Using flexible structures such as debt or PCVs to accommodate market-level changes, where feasible
  • Allowing a longer time horizon for returns, understanding that growth could be slow and difficult to achieve for many companies 

Kinyungu Ventures catalyzes resilient businesses for local intergenerational prosperity. The East African-centric investor focuses on entrepreneurship in East Africa, startups, seed funding, debt financing, impact investing and angel investing.

Speaking on the launch of the white paper, Tony Chen, Managing Director ofKinyungu Ventures and  co-publisher of the report says, “Capital in Africa is scarce and pursuing a “growth at all costs” strategy where capital pools are shallow presents huge risks for companies. We’ve also found that many great businesses don’t fit the typical VC profile, but have tremendous unfulfilled potential.”

Tayo Akinyemi, lead researcher and writer of the report added: “In our conversations with numerous investors and founders, it is clear that nuances in variables such as consumer behavior, cultural norms, and business practices impact startups significantly and being on the ground is crucial for success.  While African markets aren’t always able to provide the outsized returns that Silicon Valley typically looks for in high-growth companies, a more focused strategy here could unlock real gems, as has been proven by some of the startup successes the continent has seen over the years.” 

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West Africa

ROAM Africa Reveal Impact of COVID-19 on Jobs Markets in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya

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ROAM Africa Reveal Impact of COVID-19 on Jobs Markets in Nigeria Ghana and Kenya, SiliconNigeria

ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the leading digital classifieds group in Sub-Saharan Africa, has today released three new labour market reports that shed more light on the effects of the COVID-19 on the African jobs market.

The reports also reveal transactional sales roles as the most in-demand jobs across Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, and provides other insights and analysis that will help employers and jobseekers across the continent to navigate the new employment landscape. 

With job cuts, furlough extensions and new working habits developing across the continent, many employers and jobseekers are looking for guidelines to help them understand where opportunities are available and how to prepare for the future of work. The Impact of COVID-19 Job Reports, which were compiled by Jobberman (Ghana and Nigeria) and BrighterMonday (Kenya), explore factors such as trending industries/sectors, trending roles, trending skills, trending salaries/benefits, major trends caused by COVID-19 and job market trends and forecasts for Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. 

The reports are based on information from the databases of the jobs platforms – with more than 24 million combined job applications and more than 100,000 registered employers – external research and insight from external business leaders.

According to the reports, Sales roles in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya are the most sought-after, with 15%, 4% and 13% of job postings in each market respectively between January and August 2020. IT & Telecoms was the top industry with the most job postings in Ghana and Nigeria, 12% and 16% respectively, while the Government had the most job postings in Kenya with 15%.

Customer Service & Support was the most declining job function in Ghana and Nigeria, with 2% and 5% respectively and Management & Business Development was the most declining job function in Kenya with 4%. Companies in all three countries are hiring more professionals with Mid-level experience to fill their hiring activities than any other experience level, although not as much as they did last year.

Despite a decline in hiring in some industries, the reports predict a rise in demand for certain skills post-COVID as companies prepare to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic. The reports predict that hard skills such as digital and coding skills, data analytics and literacy and problem solving skills, as well as soft skills such as adaptability and agility, emotional intelligence and critical thinking are the skills companies are hiring for right now.

There is also a change in how employers view compensation with mental health and wellness benefits, flex pay and childcare support more prominent in compensation packages. Virtual recruitment, remote working and the acceleration of technology adoption are some of the other major trends caused by COVID-19.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs, said, “these reports not only highlights the impact of the pandemic, but also serves as a guide for all employers to assess how they deal with change. The pandemic has undoubtedly caused a number of challenges, but some of the changes it has brought are quite exciting, because they offer the potential for dynamic transformations.

“As we assess and plan for the future, business leaders, HR practitioners and policymakers will have to work together to develop effective solutions that will make them better equipped for the future and create a better workplace for both employers and employees”.

The new reports, The BrighterMonday Kenya Impact of COVID-19 Jobs Report, The Jobberman Ghana Impact of COVID-19 Jobs Report  and The Jobberman Nigeria Impact of COVID-19 Jobs Report will all soon be available to download on the ROAM Africa website.

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