NEAR Launches Kenya Regional Hub to Support Blockchain Projects and Talent in Africa

May 9, 2022 — NEAR Team

NEAR Foundation is thrilled to announce the launch of Kenya Regional Hub in partnership with Sankore, a Kenya-based NEAR Guild. The Kenya Regional Hub will accelerate blockchain innovation, education, and talent development across the African continent. 

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

“We are thrilled to be working with NEAR to educate and nurture talented individuals to become world-class blockchain developers,” says 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.”

How NEAR Meets kickstarted the Kenya Regional Hub

Sankore founder Kevin Imani speaking at a Kenya Regional Hub event.

Crucially, the new Kenya Regional Hub didn’t come out of nowhere. The Sankore-led NEAR Meets had overwhelming attendance, and were already hubs for locals gathering for blockchain and NEAR protocol education. 

The NEAR Meets a space to share ideas and create new Open Web opportunities. As such, these events created networking opportunities amongst both locals and the larger NEAR community. 

At the recent “Harnessing Opportunities in Web3” in Nakuru, a NEAR-Certified Developer helped local Kenyan developers become certified NEAR developers. The hub’s education arm already has strong connections with local universities, and registered 77 students in the NEAR Certified Developer Workshops. Seven other students are currently in NEAR Certified Analysts Workshops, while six students are already certified NEAR developers.

Incubating blockchain projects in Africa

Attendees at a Kenya Regional Hub event.

With Sankore’s track record as a Kenyan project incubator, the Kenya Regional Hub will hit the ground running. 

Sankore created local traction by supporting several forward-thinking blockchain projects. Kilimo Shwari, for instance, helps local farmers hedge against agricultural uncertainties, like bad weather and Kenya’s recent locust invasion. Kilimo Shwari’s smart contract-based insurance gathers data on these and other uncertainties, and then automatically compensates farmers in advance. 

Another Sankore-backed project, Ledja, tackles document fraud throughout Africa. In partnership with local universities, Ledja is using the NEAR protocol to digitize and verify qualifications and legal documents. 

Africa’s rapid cryptocurrency adoption

Attendees at a Kenya Regional Hub event.

Over the past decade, African countries have been undergoing a rapid digital revolution. The continent’s cryptocurrency adoption jumped 1,200% from July 2020 to June 2021, the fastest adoption rate in the world. 

“We are excited by the potential avenues throughout Africa for blockchain solutions, which come from innovation in development, education and talent,” says Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation. “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.”

The Kenya Regional Hub will demonstrate just how how easy it is to onboard into NEAR’s fast, low-cost, and safe ecosystem. They will find a host of DeFi projects, DAOs, NFT marketplaces, and more on NEAR. By showcasing these vibrant NEAR ecosystem projects, the Kenya hub will help unleash the next wave of Web3 innovation. 

NEAR Foundation is investing heavily in regional hubs around the world. Kenya joins a growing list of hubs in China, the Balkans, and Ukraine, with many more in the works. Led by great local entrepreneurs, NEAR Hubs operate as independent legal entities in full alignment with the foundation’s mission and objectives. 

All regional hubs are vital to onboarding users into the NEAR ecosystem to help build a multi-chain, open web future. 

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