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The NEAR Foundation launches regional hub in Africa’s Silicon Savannah

Sankore Founder Kevin Imani
Image credits: Sankore

The Swiss non-profit overseeing the governance and development of the NEAR protocol, the world’s fastest-growing carbon-neutral blockchain, is announcing the launch of a regional hub in Kenya. The NEAR Foundation will partner with the local blockchain community Sankore to launch its regional hub dedicated to ongoing blockchain innovation, education and talent development throughout the African continent.

The hub, led by Sankore founder Kevin Imani and supported by his core team of four members, will organize events, launch an academy & incubator and be part of the Sankore Bounty ecosystem.

Why & How Kenya?

Africa experienced the fastest cryptocurrency adoption rate in the world with 1,200% from July 2020 to June 2021. Kenya was among the top in last year’s Global Crypto Adoption Index, ranking fifth. In fact, many Kenyans are already directly trading cryptocurrencies with each other more than elsewhere in the world.

The new Kenya Regional Hub wasn’t a lucky coincidence but rather a culmination of consistent efforts by Sankore. As Imani explained, the Sankore-led NEAR Meets consistently bragged an overwhelming attendance, already acting as hubs for locals gathering for blockchain and NEAR protocol education. 

The NEAR Meets also developed into a space to share ideas, create new Open Web opportunities and network with locals as well as the larger NEAR community. Members have had the opportunity to learn, network, share ideas, establish opportunities in the open web and make Web3 a reality.

Sankore’s street cred

Sankore’s track record as a Kenyan project incubator is an indication that the Kenya Regional Hub will hit the ground running. Sankore already has local traction by supporting several forward-thinking projects, like Kilimo Shwari, an on-chain solution which assists local farmers to hedge against agricultural uncertainties such as bad weather and Kenya’s recent locust invasion. Kilimo Shwari’s smart contract-based insurance gathers data on these and other uncertainties, automatically compensating farmers in advance. 

Another Sankore-backed project, Ledja, is fighting document fraud throughout Africa. Through partnerships with local universities, Ledja is using the NEAR protocol to digitise and verify qualifications and legal documents. A recent event held in Nakuru titled “Harnessing Opportunities in Web3”, featured a NEAR-Certified Developer helping local Kenyan developers learn how to become certified blockchain and NEAR developers.

Working with NEAR

The Kenya Regional Hub will lay the foundation for NEAR’s expansion into Africa, actively showing them how easy it is to onboard onto NEAR’s fast, low-cost, and safe ecosystem. The NEAR protocol will host DeFi projects, DAOs, NFT marketplaces and more, helping unleash the next wave of Web3 innovation. “This hub represents a unique opportunity to partner with local talent not only for the opportunities that we know exist today but also for the opportunities yet to be created in the future.” said the NEAR Foundation’s CEO Marieke Flament.

The Silicon Savannah hub joins the NEAR Foundation’s growing cohort of regional hubs around the world. The Foundation brags hubs in China, Latin America, the Balkans, and Ukraine, with more coming. Led by great local entrepreneurs, NEAR Hubs operate as independent legal entities fully aligned with the foundation’s mission and objectives.

The hub’s education arm has already established strong connections with local universities, registering 77 students in the NEAR Certified Developer Workshops. Seven other students are presently registered in the NEAR Certified Analysts Workshops, whereas six students have already become certified NEAR developers.

“We are thrilled to be working with NEAR to educate and nurture talented individuals to become world-class blockchain developers,” remarked Sankore’s Founder Kevin Imani. “Our dream is to lead the way in blockchain innovations in providing solutions to Africa’s biggest problems. The NEAR Protocol allows tomorrow’s brightest developers to build custom solutions with scalability, security, and transparency and this hub is the next step in turning our shared vision into reality.”

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