Driving Blockchain Adoption Across Universities In Nigeria – An Interview With Kayode Babarinde

Campus Blockchain Hackathon At Covenant University, Sango-Ota Ogun State
Campus Blockchain Hackathon At Covenant University, Sango-Ota Ogun State.

The subject of the blockchain has been dominating the media scene in Nigeria over the past six months. While the trend is still at a nascent stage, there have been calls from different angles for the Nigerian government to accelerate the adoption of innovative technology in order to improve the country’s economy.

A blockchain is a distributed ledger that is decentralized, transparent and immutable. It’s is a chain of blocks, and each block can be used to store data of value such as land titles, identity. The technology had attracted many countries and financial institution all over who are now realizing the numerous potentials blockchain may hold.

Many people in Nigeria came to know about blockchain, through bitcoin. Whether the negative perception of bitcoin in the Nigerian media has rubbed on its underlying technology leaving many with a misconception about the technology is a matter of debate. Regardless of this, an initiative is gradually driving the adoption of this disruptive technology into universities across Nigeria by bringing it to their doorstep.

Campus Blockchain Hackathon is the brain work of a passionate crypto-enthusiast who is determined to see students in Nigerian universities embrace and adopt the blockchain technology. The initiative is a body under the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA) a subset of the Cryptographic Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN).

To learn from this new initiative, BTC.ng had the opportunity to interview the man behind the Campus Blockchain Hackathon, Mr. Kayode Babarinde, who gave us more insight into the activities of the project. Below is the full interview.

Kayode Babarinde
Kayode Babarinde

Who is Kayode Babarinde?

Kayode is a highly motivated technology enthusiast, who has up till recent being on the vanguard of advocating and consulting widely on the adoption of Blockchain technology; its use cases, and applications, across sectors for economic and sustainable development.

Part of his works includes; Curator, CoinFest Nigeria; Humaniq projects in Africa; Vice Chair, Advisory Board at WTX Hub, and a TEDx speaker on: “Blockchain: A Disruptive Technology Beyond Financial Inclusion” at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

He is the PLAAS Ambassador in Nigeria/West Africa, an Associate Fellow, Cryptography Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN), and the Chapter President for Government Blockchain Association in Lagos.

Currently works as Lead Partner at KAYBABS Consult and as Program Coordinator at Campus Blockchain Hackathon.

How did you come across blockchain and what inspired your passion for it?

It was through Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, Founder of Bitnation. We met at a camp in Ghana, where she came to speak on topics around Bitcoin, Blockchain, and decentralized governance. At first, I really did not take it seriously as they were “strange thoughts,” and its “act of impossibilities.” Till when the camp director got in-touch much after for a follow-up, more specifically, to check out recent developments in the blockchain space. He sent many links, articles, and videos. Still, I was not serious, until I received my first coins to host the first DASH meet-up in Nigeria, as I was the Ambassador at that time.

Subsequently, I went on more researches, analysis, and collaborations, with global experts, and now, am more confident about the possibilities of Blockchain Technology.

What motivated you to launch Campus Blockchain Hackathon?

Campus Blockchain Hackathon is an initiative of Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA), a subset of Cryptography Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN). Part of CDIN aim is to engage indigenous Blockchain projects and start-ups through the umbrella body of the Nigerian Blockchain Alliance in improving quality assurance and ensuring global best practices amongst these startups.

It is for this reason Campus Blockchain Hackathon stems out of NBA to further sustain these standards by reaching out to academic communities on the need to discover and empower young talented Nigerians while they are still in the brightest state of their minds. Furthermore, is to acquire Blockchain skills as a necessity for the “The Future of Job” according to the World Economic Forum’s Report, in respect to the Sustainable Development Goal 8 of the United Nations.

Therefore, Campus Blockchain Hackathon is a step in engaging the academic community on the potentials of Blockchain Technology for national development, the unique role of academic institutions, and more importantly, the need to incorporate it into our academic curriculum.

What are the challenges the initiative has faced towards pushing for the adoption of blockchain in Nigerian universities?

The project started on a good note with over 1000 participants from the first day.  However, we still have some challenges.

What the team could consider challenge is meeting some hostile environment, totally not interested, nor conducive for innovation. For this, we can’t point blaming fingers but to continue to encourage them in seeing the light.

Second could also be managing all these upcoming startups, born out of the project, as they constantly have inquiries (as they are new in the space), same time, you will not want to risk not connecting them with opportunities, as they only come per time. Then, moving to expansion. It’s a lot of SMART work to keep the project moving. At this point, I could say the project has really stretched the team on several potentials we did not even believe we had till we started. Managing several startups could be demanding and challenging at the same time, but with the presence of more partners, I believe we can do much better.

Finally, finance. I knew the budget for this project was much, right from the start, but sponsors won’t just fund it as they are not sure of its success, or impacts. So being a positive individual, I kept on preparing for the project whether there is/are sponsors or not, hoping the “positivity” will pay up one day. Till a few days to the first day of the project, we got our first sponsors, BitMama.io, LUNO, after which, Kora.Network . It was really overwhelming as it certainties were not sure before then, but eventually, we are glad to have them support us. Irrespective of this, we still need more sponsors to help to achieve this goal at Campus Blockchain Hackathon.

How many Nigerian universities have you being able to reach and how is the response?

We have been to two (2) universities now, Covenant University, and Kwara State University, and we will be going to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, as the third campus.

The idea is to reach five (5) leading campuses at every cardinal point of Nigeria, for the First Edition, with a National Blockchain Hackathon at the end, while, we extend to other campuses for the next Editions.

The responses have been very welcoming, and positive, especially that of Covenant University, it was super successful beyond what we planned as a beginning, many thanks to Hebron StartUp Lab for making it happen.

What role do you think the Nigerian government should play towards seeing universities in Nigeria adopt blockchain?

Specifically, the Federal Ministry of Education should please review the existing curriculum with current updates, so that, graduates of these academic institutions could have more global relevance. In fact, this is not new as many ivy league universities like Harvard, Cambridge, and Nicosia, are already running Blockchain courses in those institutions. And in Africa, I am not sure any Academic institutions running Blockchain courses, so, if the Nigerian academic institutions could lead this, with support from the Federal Government, I believe it is a right step in right direction. Improving the quality of education, contributing to technological innovations, and adding value to the overall national economy.

Beyond Federal Ministry Education, more responsibilities is also needed from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the National Assembly, to positively shape the narrative of the government’s role towards Blockchain adoption.

Have you ever been involved in any blockchain startup or initiative?  If yes, can you tell us about it?

Constantly, Yes, as this is my Business. I am much interested in structuring Blockchain start-ups, by providing advisory services, quality standards, and access to opportunities, for growth. It’s no news that startups are inevitably contributing massively to nation’s economy, and societal development, so, it’s best we take them serious when we have them than lose them when we need them most.

Currently, I am involved with PLAAS.io, as PLAAS is providing players in the African agricultural sector with a platform where they can store and share information about crops and animals securely. The platform works by using blockchain technology to store sensitive agricultural data like the breed and ancestry of animals to help buyers identify the traits of the animals that they are buying. This gives an insight into whether the animal is able to produce high yields based on the past ancestry and the conditions of the new farm. Additionally, the platform also provides information on plants and animals to keep track of the food security in the country remotely. This is done by leveraging RFID information and combining it with blockchain technology to ensure all the animals in the platform can be tracked, and their genetic information is available to users.

Do you have more information for our readers?

Yes. As the project continues, we do like to welcome more partners/sponsors, that share the same vision with us in reaching out to these campuses, more strategies, and to further achieve the aim this project, through collaborative supports. The team could be reached via [email protected]

Written By

Passionate about the fintech space in Africa, blockchain enthusiast, cryptourrency advocate, freelance writer, open to learning new innovations #InnovateAfrica