Digital technology is changing and has changed the ways we create and consume narratives, from moving images and immersive story worlds to digital long-form and multi-branched story experiences. At the same time, blockchain, the technology that
underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, is revolutionising the way that transactions and exchanges occur.

As a globally stored and collaboratively written list of all transactions that have ever taken place within a given system, the blockchain decentralises money and offers a platform for its creative use. There are already examples of blockchain technologies extending beyond the realm of currency, including the decentralisation of domain name servers that are not subject to government takedown, and identity management and governance.

By framing key blockchain concepts with past and present storytelling practices, this article raises questions as to how the principles and implementation of such distributed ledger technologies might be used within contemporary writing practices – that is, can we imagine stories as a currency or value system?

We had a chance to discuss the issues with Anthony Onukwue, Co-Founder, of Asset Cradle.
We talked about experiments that draw on some of the fundamental principles of blockchain and the apparent need to reimagine the storytelling narrative.

Enjoy!

 Introduce yourself, who is Anthony and what sparked your interest in Blockchain.

Anthony Onwukwe ACArb is a law student reading for the Nigerian Bar, an Associate of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators and has a keen interest in technology. He is passionate about blockchain solutions especially product management for #web3. He is a Co-founder at Asset Cradle (www.assetcradle.org) a blockchain solution that enables fractional ownership of assets on the blockchain. He is also a member of the content development team of CoinW Exchange and believes in technological advancement in the African continent. That is briefly about me. Nothing much.

Well for me my interest in the blockchain space, started last year October when the idea for Africonzee the first phase of the Asset Cradle project was birthed. That was the memorial day for lives lost in the Lekki shootings. May God bless their souls. Before then my I knew about cryptocurrency, invested, gained and lost, I was also introduced to NFTs by my friend/Co-founder George Ezeudeka. But my deep dive into understanding the foundation behind these adoptions was finding how out revolutionary and transformative blockchain is, hence, my interest was doubled.

Forget for a moment about all the hype and buzz around Web 3, 4 and 5. What do you think Blockchain represent and how can we apply its use cases here in Africa?

Honestly, I love this question. Another way one would couch this would be;  what is blockchain beyond the hype? What really is this technology? This question is very important because for there to be a massive adoption of blockchain technology and what it offers the utility of blockchain has to be understood for what it is, for the problems it solves, and how it makes life better. Personally, I feel projects have become too ambitious and do not focus on what really matters.

For me, blockchain technology represents two adjectives; transformative and accommodative. Transformative because it can transform every activity, and process, making it better and more efficient. This technology fosters transparency, accountability and fewer complexities in life and economic processes. Blockchain is accommodative because I believe that there is nothing the blockchain technology cannot enhance, transform or remodel. You look at supply chain management, healthcare, finance, and business operations. I mean it is one technology that is gold. And I would love to also state this; there seems that people always place blockchain as a competitor or Web3 as a competitor to Web2. And you hear things like “blockchain will eliminate the banks” . I feel these are very bold but misinformed statements. For me Blockchain is not here to drag market share or whatever, it is here to make things better and both Web2 and Web3 adoptions can coexist together. I am a part of the school of thought of alternatives as the spice of choice.

Applying blockchain use cases in Africa is needed and should be done deliberately. The African continent is a buzzing continent for blockchain adoptions. For projects, they see us as having the market. But as an African, I see blockchain as something that can help us ,the continent not even in financial empowerment, which is my least metric, but in alleviating challenges like administrative bottlenecks, corruption, lack of accountability, supply chain problem, food security, the educational sector, health care sector and more. Financial empowerment inclusive but applications should be beyond that.

I would love to see the government apply blockchain technology in governance, that healthrecords of patients are not missing because they are recorded in the blockchain, that the farmer in Maiduguri or Kumasi can accurately find out how many seedlings he has, how much crops he is producing and which has been transported. In a nutshell let’s take blockchain utility in Africa to the mainstream.

 On top of all the hype is the growing communities of Blockchain verticals however experience has proven that there are more misinformed “Blockchain enthusiasts” than the informed. Does Blockchain have a storytelling problem?

Misinformed blockchain enthusiasts? Hilarious! Well for me I feel when a new trend comes up, everyone wants to jump on it , you know a new kind of FOMO. Well in terms of misinformation, I feel it is not unprecedented. It is said that no one can say he or she is a blockchain expert or Web3 expert, at least for now.  There is always new knowledge, new things to learn. But there is a problem of not knowing about something, not trying to dig deep research or basicly understanding the concepts before trying to transfer knowledge. This either makes the receiver of the information accept or learn wrong information or go back confused.

Yes blockchain technology has a storytelling problem, but like I say it is not unprecedented. Due to the fact the technology is quite new or making huge waves in recent times, most people want to join the train without understanding the destination or what they are into. Most might not know that Gavin Wood Coined #web3 but can tell you a lot about the utilities of Web3. I am not saying is bad thing, we learn most times on the job. But I feel that there should be a retracement, maybe a little. I feel people are bored about hearing NFTs, SBTs, DeFi, Metaverse and all those exciting things because no one actually understands the root. You have to understand the internet, how it solves your problem before being bullish and genuinely interested placing ads, creating videos or trying to use what the internet offers. However on the flip side, it is not worse and we can get better, I mean the advent of internet brought disbelieve and negative opinions. It was not really understood but look at where we are now. But my opinion is that the blockchain gospel should be made relatable, simple and described as a problem solver which it is. “Teach me how to walk on land before taking me to the moon”, is a clear Illustration of what I mean.

How do you think that we may reset the wrong narrative to scale the adoption of Blockchain

For us to reset the narrative, first we should pause a little and do a double edged information sharing, trying to get feedbacks. Blockchain education should not be done for only cryptocurrencies or done to talk about virtual reality, Metaverse and those exciting things. If I will organise a teaching session for instance about blockchain, I will begin to talk about first the Why! I mean why Blockchain? Convincingly tell people why this technology is worth adopting. Tell people what is a database contrasting with the blockchain. Because the blockchain is different from a database. What are the key benefits of blockchain. I mentioned transparency, how doe it make it transparent. In my LinkedIn personal page, I write about blockchain and IRL solutions because I personally feel that blockchain technology is being limited in its marketing, narration, explanation and so on. So we can begin to make people see blockchain as a problem solver and not a cash grab or an Alice in Wonderland.

 Briefly Tell us about your work in Web3/Blockchain

Currently I am a Co-founder at Asset Cradle a physical and digital assets that hs exposed to a lot of researching and understanding the Web3 space as much as I can. My work in CoinW Exchange has gotten me involved their content development, public relations and marketing of blockchain products. Currently I am learning Product Management for Web3. From the legal Standpoint , I am interested in the policy formulation in the Web3 space, almost done with an article on that. I have also written on the legal and institutional framework of blockchain technology in Nigeria. And some short pieces on taxation of NFTs, Data privacy concerns in the Metaverse, Compliance for blockchain businesses and more. In a Nutshell , I am still learning and open for more opportunities in the blockchain space. I will appreciate that.

 I am tempted to ask what your take on the African Blockchain and Crypto regulatory landscape is. Is it a  Hit or miss? Depending on your answer how do we course correct?

Well the Regulatory framework for Blockchain technology or the industry in Africa is a young one. I mean it is still young in all jurisdictions , so we will be talking about how young yours is. The hindrance with regulation of blockchain industry in Africa is first of all adoption and recognition on the part of the government and policy makers. The legislative arm makes the laws so to have proper blockchain regulations you need policymakers that believe in what they intend regulating. Policy makers that recognise the potentials of the industry it is regulating. Another hindrance is Bike-shedding in understanding the blockchain technology or simply bias. Most people feel Blockchain is all about crypto currencies, Bitcoin most especially. This bias is a problem. This is where education comes in. Blockchain education is very crucial and I am happy with the progress blockchain education has attained. In Africa, we have Central Africa Republic ( CAR) adoption cryptocurrency’s as legal tender, and boats to be a favourable ecosystem of blockchain projects. I believe that is progress. We need more expers sponsoring bills, experts sending bills to the National Assemblies and Parliament. I was able to know someone who worked on the Nigerian Startup Bill which started last year before it was passed this year into law. He shared the efforts made to make that a reality and I feel block experts and enthusiasts can toll the same line.

There are laws actually which the blockchain industry can be regulated by , when people say there are no laws, that is a fallacy. The truth is what the blockchain industry needs is regulatory support and policy formulation, policies that will encourage the technology and another technology. The ban on cryptocurrency transactions and payment facilitation of crypto transactions by Nigerian banks was unprecedented and this has also affected a lot of businesses and blockchain startups. As one building a blockchain project, instability of regulations, the compliance requirements, and some bottlenecks is a huge hurdle to scale. The government while trying to ensure transparency of the fintech industry should make policies that are accomodating for blockchain brands. There are SEC rules, Dataprivacy laws, Intellectual property laws, Banking laws, and general compliance requirements such as KYC (know your customer), Anti money laundering compliance, CFT and other corporate compliance requirements that can apply to blockchain businesses. It is a work in progress.

What would be your take on constructive storytelling and community building in Blockchain and Crypto?

Constructive story telling would be capturing the essence of the message intended to be passed and I believe that in solving the storytelling problem blockchain technology faces, Blockchain should be presented to newbies and even those in the space , as that technology that solves problems and offers realtime solutions. Projects should release products that people actually wants, the jargons surrounding the explanation of the technology should be reduced, and messages should be coordinated, and with a uniform vision. Lastly, shun scams!

Community building in Blockchain industry is a critical arm. No successful blockchain project thrives without a community. The community are  mostly the first users of a Project product and usually the first to gain waitlist spots. They also drive the growth of a business and it is essential that one deliberately builds his community. However it is important for community builders to take heed to the growth of their community members, do not fill your community with people that do not understand the technology your product is being built. A community that cannot understand your vision. Your community should be an avenue to promote blockchain education, skills and create positive impact. Not a place to just sell or market. Treat your community as family!

 WAGMI, yes I agree, our community believes so too, but how do we convince 1.2 billion people that exist on the continent?

There is no hard and fast rule in doing this. It not cast on stone. But convincing the 1.2billion people in the continent would involve education and practical implementation. Education they say is the key to success. Education is fundamental to get people to say, “let’s go with blockchain”. Let’s keep on teaching the core , keep on enlightening people. This will continue to be in fashion. Practical implementation involves implementing the technology to solve challenges and make life better. No one can convince me out of believing that there is no God today, because my faith is based on experience not word of mouth. So if someone experiences blockchain making things easier for her , that convinces and solidifies her belief. So practical implementation and education. That is my little two cents.

 Techonomyafrica is a leader in Blockchain Ed with a  growing progressive community of 16k users as of the last cohort, what would be your advice for newbies who are still fence and sceptical about Blockchain?

If one is sitting on the fence and skeptical about blockchain, that shows lack of resolve and maybe understanding. Trust me, anyone who understands the potentials of the blockchain would readily jump on it . However, my advice is try and understand first , then ask personal questions like, what am I in this industry for? Am I here to build, get a role or contribute? Find your why and that will keep you consistent.

 Any Final words?

Really appreciate the opportunity to share my views. Thank you TechonomyAfrica.

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