By Mike Ssegawa
“What would you have done differently if you learned about the Internet in 1991 instead of 2001?” This was a mind opening question by Noah Baalessanvu, director of Blockchain Technology Africa on Thursday afternoon at UAP Business Park Nakawa as he spoke about opportunities Blockchain technologies was opening for Ugandans and Africans in general.
The Blockchain Association of Uganda hosted a media workshop on blockchain at their office on 6th floor of UAP Business Park.

The media interaction was one of the awareness activations ahead of the Africa Blockchain Conference which is happening this year in Kampala on May 23rd and 24th at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
The conference will attract who is who in technology on the continent.
“It’ll be a time to network with Global Thought Leaders,” said Kwame Rugunda, the chairperson of Blockchain Association of Uganda (BAU). On the 23rd and 24th May, leaders in policy, business and academia from around the world will converge in Kampala for Africa’s largest blockchain conference.
The Blockchain Association of Uganda, with support from the Government of Uganda are organizing the Africa Blockchain Conference to highlight the role of blockchain technology in Africa’s transformation.
Organizers are promising an impactful and experiential sessions where participants will realise their role in how to support a thriving blockchain innovation and business ecosystem.

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Kwame said blockchain’s influence in the public sector will be mostly behind the scenes, although the technology has the potential to bring security, efficiency, and speed to a wide range of services and processes.
He explained that blockchain is a young technology, which came on the scene in 2009.
“This means we are all at the right stage of adoption, when we can decide how we want it to play out for us, as businesses and as a nation,” Kwame emphasized.

At the conference, President Yoweri Museveni is expected to be the chief guest. The other top notch speakers include; Prof. Tumusiime-Mutebile, Governor of Bank of Uganda; Bagiire Vincent Waiswa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT; Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Chairman, Blockchain Taskforce (Kenya); Dr. Dorothy Okello, Chairperson, Communications Commission; Changpeng Zhao, CEO, Binance (China); Patrick Mweheire CEO, Stanbic Bank Uganda; Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO, BitPesa (Kenya); and Llew Claasen, Executive Director, Bitcoin Foundation (USA), among others.

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This technology which has come to be identified with digital currency, but goes beyond money, has been endorsed by key business people in Uganda, including Patrick Bitature.
“Blockchain technology is a game changer if embraced appropriately,” Bitature, one of the wealthiest people in Uganda, says.
According to Kwame, blockchain technology shall improve both financial inclusion and government transparency.

How it works
Blockchain information is stored in blocks (of information) linked to others (chain).
According to the Blockchain Association of Uganda, this is “a shared legder on a network where the information recorded is immutable”. It says “Blockchain is distributed ledger technology. Files are built and assembled to form blocks that store information.
The association on its social media pages, says, with blockchain allows decentralised and centralised networks communicate through the nearest servers. “The distributed ledger on which blockchain is built requires everyone on the network to have a copy of and agree to the ledger,” a tweet on @blockchainug says.

Mr Baalessanvu, an IT security expert said that Blockchain is called the system of trust because transactions are published publicly and monitored. The ledgers can be public or private in a self auditing ecosystem that reconciles transactions in 5 – 10 minutes in real-time.
IT security expert says Blockchain is a robust system which is not prone to server breakdowns and durable.
“It cannot be controlled or manipulated by a single entity and the automatic processes are transparent and incorruptible,” he adds.

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Mr Timothy Musoke from Laboremus, explained how blockchain is enabling the farming community by accessing finance.
With more than 70% of Ugandans actively involved in agriculture, they came up with an app EMATA which uses block chain technology to help identify and compile data about farmers.
Musoke says the app is being used by farmers in Ntungamo and Bushenyi which has eased their access to finance as well as balancing their books.
“emata is bridging the divide between local producers and global markets,” Musoke said.
Ahead the conference, Kwame Rugunda says, “We are at a defining time in history” calling upon Ugandans to seize the opportunity that blockchain presents.