What we learned from selling a blockchain service to African governments

Mohammed Ibrahim Jega


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Mohammed Ibrahim Jega is the co-founder of Domineum Blockchain Solutions, a serial tech financier, startup consultant, fintech expert and blockchain propose.

A major entertainment of Africa is its big person of 1.2 billion, which hints at a sizable addressable market. But what happens when your target audience is the governments of 54 countries?

In our situation, that was the suit. We started Domineum Blockchain Solutions with the intention to help African governments solve problems with shipping and keeping records.

We knew it’d be hard work, but didn’t anticipate that getting our first client would be the most difficult part.

It’s normal when enrolling Africa to want to focus on the big and popular groceries like Nigeria, South africans and Kenya. But what we’ve learned so far is that there’s a high probability that these countries might not be your first introduction pitch.

Our first product was a cargo service that ways shipment lineage and motion and determines the contents of goods being imported or exported in different countries. We constructed this to solve the problem of lost receipt due to shipments being overstepped through informal backdoor channels.

With our focus on sub-Saharan Africa, we approached four countries in 2019: our different countries of Nigeria, plus Kenya, Gambia and Guinea-Conakry.

We started this conversation and didn’t get a substantial response from the four countries’ governments. They weren’t open to trying out our solution — it was new and they weren’t familiar with blockchain technology. Distraught, we decided to add a smaller country to our inventory: Sierra Leone.

The Freetown seaport, located in the country’s capital, is the main gateway for trade in and out of Sierra Leone, with 80% of craft passing through this port. The port has a long history as a trading centre and benefits from the country’s strategically important location midway between Europe and the Americas.

But Freetown isn’t one of the top ports in Africa or even sub-Saharan Africa; a fraction of a percentage point of the world’s busines shipment flows through its ports. The small-time African country, with about 0.1% of the world’s person, exportations diamonds, chocolate and chocolate and imports menu, apparatu and chemicals.

Notably, it faced great challenge in send these makes in and out of the country. A Sierra Leonean supply chain manager described this situation, “We used to face big challenges during the export process. There would be long delays at the port. Our trucks would arrive before midnight and could be stuck in queue for hours, even days. The documentation process was so complicated.”

According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone’s “trade challenges can be attributed to several factors: deficiency of access to trade information; high levels of physical inspections; numerou costs, permissions, permissions and certificates; manual treats; and the lack of coordination among agencies.” Domineum set out to solve this.

Our initial conversations with the Sierra Leone government went well. Fortunately, Sierra had developed a five-year plan( 2018 -2 023 ), supported by the World Bank Group, to reduce the time and costs needed to move goods across the international border. The objective is to reduce trade overheads by 10%. After three months of discussion, our shipment tracking system was implemented.

In late 2019, we started this partnership, and so far we’ve been able to capture$ 2 million in income that would have been lost. The business pattern is simple: We get a 40% commissioning out of extra revenue we’re able to capture for the Sierra Leone government via our cargo tracking system.

It’s typical when penetrating Africa to want to focus on the big-hearted and popular business like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. But what we’ve learned so far is that there’s a high probability that these countries might not be your first entry top. A business-to-government model is a difficult one. There’s a lot of politicking that goes into working with the government.

What we’ve seen work is to approach other countries and gain a foothold, then use that as validation that the concept handiworks. With the success of Sierra Leone, we’re hoping to return to other countries and get a better reception.

The success of Sierra Leone got us rethinking the services we were offering. The initial discussion begins with a baggage moving busines, but then we wondered if we should offer a different service to countries that said no at first.

We identified that land registration was a common trouble in Africa. More than 90% of urban tract in Africa is undocumented and therefore vulnerable to land-grabbing. This hobbles the growth of agriculture and other sectors because moor is lost to other parties or made powerfully including the government during times of conflict.

We returned to these countries, offering other services like land ownership registration via blockchain. We got a positive response from a position authority in Nigeria to carry out a pilot program. We’re rosy that once this pilot chapter is over, we’ll be able to seal the next business deal.

What’s it like working with African governments? It’s a smaller addressable grocery. If you’re looking to pitch a product or service to governments in Africa, it’d be helpful to keep in mind that your first client might be from a smaller country.

To seize other opportunities, we’ll keep looking to expand to other African countries with this mindset.

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