Key Executive at Binance, Carine Dikambi, speaks about the opportunities of blockchain technology and the need for its adoption and application in multiple industries. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:
What is BCAT2022 campaign all about and what does the campaign seek to address?
BCAT 2022 is a blockchain and crypto awareness tour with the aim to drive blockchain adoption and increase awareness through offline connections and experiences highlighting blockchain impact, use cases and education. At a time when more Africans are seeking alternative means of transacting, as well as information about digital assets, we think it’s important to provide the right information and adequate networks for young people to thrive. This is why Binance decided to sponsor the 2022 edition of the BCAT tour.
Who are the target audience of the BCAT2022 campaign, and when is the campaign likely to cover all the geographical zones of the country, having started from Enugu in June?
With this tour, we are targeting crypto enthusiasts and newbies, some of which have heard about crypto but seek a deeper understanding. We are also welcoming to crypto operators and veterans who are keen on expanding their network of mission-driven blockchain professionals. In our industry, the importance of community cannot be overemphasized. The next few tour locations will likely be in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon. However, we will definitely have a few more in Nigeria in cities such as Lagos and Abuja.
Nigeria has a large population of youths with an innate potential to drive digital transformation. How do you intend to unlock such potential in today’s digital era?
At Binance, we believe innovation, education and community are powerful ways to unlock this potential in today’s digital era. This is why we consistently invest in talent, projects, infrastructure and education to provide a breeding ground for the innate potential to emerge. It is also why we are cultivating a strong blockchain community in Africa. There is a great opportunity to build world-changing applications when a pool of brilliant enthusiasts work together.
Globally, emerging technologies are transforming services in a way we’ve not seen before and Nigeria and Africa at large cannot afford to be an exception. We also recognize the importance of resources in unlocking this potential and so, we invest in the continent through Binance Charity, our philanthropic arm.
 Sometime last year, we also launched a $ 1 million fund for developers to aid building within the ecosystem.
As a leading blockchain ecosystem and cryptocurrency infrastructure provider, how can you empower Nigerian youths to take advantage of the opportunities that blockchain technology offers?
As a whole, African youths at large are provided with resources and tools to learn, build and scale through education and vocational initiatives. These youths are empowered through skills and education in order to become or remain employable globally.
Our education initiatives have been very instrumental in this. In 2020, Binance rolled out the Binance Masterclass programmes across the continent to teach Africans the fundamentals of cryptocurrencies. The lessons are free to join and open to everyone. Currently, the masterclasses have helped to educate over 540,000 Africans, creating the educational infrastructure that Africans need to be financially free and informed.
In addition to training crypto users, Binance is equipping blockchain developers with the necessary skills to build solutions. For example, we hosted an eight-week masterclass where 1000 blockchain developers in Africa were trained in key skills. The participants also took part in a live demo showcasing newly built blockchain-based products.
Aside from blockchain technology, what other emerging technologies can you possibly deploy to boost job and wealth creation among Nigerian youths?
With the high rate of employment opportunities in Nigeria, I have seen more youth acquiring tech skills to be able to compete in the global talent market. At Binance, we focus on applications, infrastructure and skills within the blockchain industry as we are a blockchain ecosystem.
However, emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (through chatbots, virtual assistants, for example), Virtual Reality and Cybersecurity Technologies also have numerous applications within the space and are being deployed in various capacities to boost wealth creation for young people.
Nigerian government is keen on diversifying the Nigerian economy to make it less dependent on oil. How will Binance contribute to the economic diversification, given your strong focus and belief in technology?
Binance is committed to contributing directly and indirectly to economies across the world. This is why we are keen on blockchain education and infrastructure provision. As the biggest crypto educators on the continent, we’ve seen how mainstream adoption, coupled with education has led people to earn a living within the industry – through employment, building on the blockchain, crypto trading and so much more. On discussions with policymakers, Binance is always willing to contribute and help in any way we can.
Cryptocurrency is one area that the Nigerian government frowns at because of the challenges in regulating it, yet several Nigerians and people worldwide are quietly benefiting from it. What is your take on this?
Crypto is still relatively nascent and so regulators across the world have been trying to understand the technology. However, there has been some progress in that regard. For example, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria recently published a set of regulations for digital assets while in Uganda the Central Bank has recently invited crypto firms to participate in a regulatory sandbox.
I think the SEC working on regulations is a step in the right direction as it shows it is forward-thinking. Regulations go a long way towards building trust with consumers and institutions interested in the space.
We also welcome regulation as regulators share the same mission with us, protecting consumers while encouraging innovation as crypto users deserve safe access to emerging technologies and practices.
How will blockchain technology adoption complement other emerging technologies to drive digital transformation across multiple sectors?
As mentioned earlier, other emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Cybersecurity Technologies have numerous applications within the blockchain industry and are therefore complementary. The adoption of blockchain will provide an added layer of transparency and accessibility in a way people didn’t previously have available to them.
Nigeria is preparing for the general election in 2023. How can blockchain technology enhance hitch-free electoral process?
The impact of blockchain technology on electoral processes is something I’m excited about and look forward to being used in the future.
As the blockchain is a decentralised, secure, transparent and traceable network that allows people, companies, and governments to store and securely transfer information and records, it has several use cases for elections. Firstly, elections will become more transparent and easily auditable. This will reduce voter apathy as lots of Nigerians have lost faith in the country’s electoral process as is evident by the constant decline in voter turnout through the years. Adoption of blockchain technology can also save costs as it reduces the high cost of ballot papers and security costs of insecurity and violence.
Blockchain technology also offers benefits like increased efficiency, improved speed and a more accurate representation of eligible voters.
Do you see the poor state of technology infrastructure affecting the successful deployment of blockchain technology in Nigeria and the rest of Africa?
The poor state of technology infrastructure can be a deterrent as well as an incentive for the adoption of blockchain. Across Africa, low uptake of traditional bank accounts and poor technology infrastructure are forcing people to find inventive, non-traditional ways of making money.
However, poor infrastructure can also mean that Nigerians have limited, slow or no access to fundamental parts of the blockchain. This is why at Binance, we continue to build infrastructure across the blockchain ecosystem, bringing new services and financial opportunities to people around the world – and this includes Nigeria.
Aside poor infrastructure, what are other foreseeable challenges that could hinder the adoption of blockchain technology in Africa and how can they be addressed?
Some challenges include users being frightened by technical jargon as well as susceptibility to scams. Our top priority is user safety and this is why we kicked off our education initiative – to teach crypto fundamentals, explain everyday use cases and ensure users know how to avoid scams. We also kicked off a campaign called My Crypto Life, an initiative that spotlights incredible crypto stories from people around the world, showing how crypto can be used by everyday people.
Tell us about yourself and your chosen career?
Carine Dikambi is key executive at Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Carine is an avid blockchain and digital economy enthusiast and an accomplished fintech professional who began her career in investment banking in NYC. I obtained a Bachelors in Banking from Université Paris Descartes and a Master’s degree in Management Sciences from Université Sorbonne Paris Cité. I also received a Certificate in Leadership Excellence from Harvard. After a successful career and over a decade spent in the financial epicenter of the world, I decided to move to Cameroon to focus on industrialisation initiatives and make an impact in the African tech landscape.
I am the co-founder of Inoni Tech, a tech hub fostering innovation, entrepreneurial mindset and providing key resources and training to develop a tech-aware and financially literate population across Francophone Africa.
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