Harnessing the power of protocols to drive talent in Africa

Over the next four years, CV Labs Africa plans to invest in and incubate 100 blockchain-specific startups. As Africa faces the dawn of a new technological age as blockchain, a catalyst tech emerges. CV Labs Africa is the brainchild and byproduct of CV VC and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Together, they have become a pioneering force and accelerator for blockchain technology developments on the African continent.

CV Labs Africa's first webinar with Cardano CEO, Frederik Gregaard

CV Labs Africa is bringing the vast experience and expertise of the Swiss Crypto Valley to guide and nurture startups on their journeys in reshaping the African landscape and is positively changing the lives of millions in the process. Crypto Valley, Switzerland, is the most mature global blockchain hub because its regulatory framework is groundbreaking. Home to Ethereum and many of the world’s best-known pioneers, the Crypto Valley mindset ensures that the democratization of the way the world interacts and transacts is happening!

The recent CV VC Top 50 Report 2021 shows that Crypto Valley reaffirms its standing as the most proactive global blockchain hub with a record valuation at the end of December 2021 of its Top 50 companies at over half a trillion USD ($611.8bn), boasting fourteen Unicorns.

Over the next couple of months, CV Labs Africa will host webinars to showcase the talent that Africa has to offer and give insights into the knowledge transfer that is taking place. These webinars will involve leading luminaries from Crypto Valley who will explore and share their expertise.

The first CV Labs Africa Webinar was held on the 24th of February 2022. It included Frederik Gregaard of Cardano, a top 10 protocol located in Crypto Valley, Switzerland. It also introduced Liliana de Sá Kirchknopf of SECO, who gave insight into Africa’s Swiss Economic cooperation intentions. Here is a summary of what was discussed.

Africa, the perfect territory for blockchain innovation and use cases

Gideon Greaves, MD of CV VC Africa, welcomed attendees and introduced the partnership between CV VC and SECO, emphasizing their commitment to the African blockchain ecosystem.

Gideon highlighted how Africa is the perfect region for blockchain use cases and mentioned how the technology is positively changing the lives of millions of people on the continent.

Gideon Greaves, Managing Director CV VC Africa

“SECO has selected Cape Town as the initial hub for the African blockchain ecosystem, and its reach will spread throughout the African continent. Africa already boasts eight unicorns, and we believe that the next unicorns to emerge from Africa will be blockchain-centric. CV Labs Africa has entered the continent at the perfect time, and it aims to embrace and further accelerate the pace at which Africa is adopting blockchain technology.”

Gideon also mentioned a CV Labs Africa Telegram Community, available for any blockchain enthusiast to join. Here, CV Labs will be showcasing the talent and innovations that Africa has to offer, and it seeks to encourage communication and collaboration within the ecosystem.

Swiss Crypto Valley and replicating its success in Africa

Tracy Trachsler, MD of CV Labs, addressed the attendees next. Tracy spoke about the origin story and developments of Crypto Valley. She touched on Switzerland being the first country in the world to introduce a state plan that would address virtual assets.

Tracy Trachsler, Managing Director CV Labs

Tracy introduced CV Labs, the incubation arm of Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CV VC), and mentioned how CV Labs feeds the community with content and connects startups to protocols and clientele. CV Labs is an investment gateway and offers blockchain advisory services, co-working spaces, startup competitions, and blockchain conferences.

Tracy highlighted Switzerland’s progressive laws and regulations that have encouraged companies worldwide to operate within the region.

Switzerland took the unique approach of adjusting existing laws to speed up the regulation of virtual assets, which was faster and more effective than attempting to create new ones.”

Tracy further emphasized that CV Labs intends to replicate the evolution, growth of stakeholders, and the active involvement of regulators that has taken place in Crypto Valley on the African continent. With the deployment of capital and the transfer of skills and knowledge, the African blockchain ecosystem is in good hands.

SECO adding value to Africa’s blockchain ecosystem

SECO is The Swiss State Secretariat’s Economic Development body whose goal is to promote economic growth and sustainable prosperity in partner countries to shape structural transformation, develop their private sector, and integrate into the global economy.

Liliana de Sá Kirchknopf, Head of the Private Sector Development Division at SECO, spoke about SECO’s interest in South Africa and the broader African blockchain ecosystem. Liliana emphasized that innovation can create jobs and help reduce poverty.

Liliana emphasized how Switzerland has been at the forefront of global blockchain developments and, as a result, has attracted over a thousand companies to the region and created over 6000 direct employment positions in the process.

“South Africa’s private sector has shown a great deal of interest in blockchain technology and wants to harness the potential it provides. SECO believes this is the foundation to a solid partnership and wishes to collaborate and share the expertise and experience of Switzerland to South Africa and the rest of the African continent.”

Liliana highlighted a key value add of SECO, namely the ecosystem aspect it intends to establish through its partnership with South Africa. They plan to help support the ecosystem by connecting key players and building synergies to encourage continued developments within the region, going beyond individual investments.

Webinar attendees heard how SECO is excited about its presence in Africa and looks forward to participating in the evolution. They intend on working closely with stakeholders within the ecosystem to ensure a more digital and inclusive future for the continent.

The importance of a thriving ecosystem and how to interact with protocols

CV Labs Africa’s commitment to growth and enablement will bring the world-renowned blockchain protocols to meet with the African ecosystem over the coming months. The first webinar in the series introduced Frederik Gregaard, CEO of the Cardano Foundation. He discussed the essential questions to ask before deciding how to interact with a protocol.

Who governs it? Who decides where the money goes? Who decides the future of the protocol? And how can you ensure that you can become part of it?”
Frederik Gregaard, CEO of the Cardano Foundation

There is no doubt that trust plays a crucial role in the success of any ecosystem. Frederik posed an interesting thought that depicted the presence of trust in an ecosystem. “Trust is in many ways is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody notices it, but when it’s absent, everybody notices immediately.“

When discussing what makes an ecosystem vibrant, Frederik emphasized the importance of individuals interacting with the protocol and building on the protocol. He further encouraged the audience to take a look at tokenomics.

What is feeding the blockchain? And what is the tracking value of the blockchain? Is the community willing and able to take over the responsibility of the project, run it in the future, and ensure participation outside of the Founding Fathers?

Keeping Frederik’s depiction of a thriving and vibrant ecosystem in mind, it is no wonder that he praised the Swiss ecosystem, declaring it evolutionary and vibrant. “One of the reasons we are in Switzerland is that there are very clear guidelines. From a regulatory perspective, Switzerland is extremely clear. What is a security or utility token? How do we pay our taxes? All those things have become evident in Switzerland, and I think that’s it’s de-risking Switzerland as a country.”

Frederik touched on the Cardano ecosystem and mentioned the vast number of 3500 stake pool operators.

We are not running the blockchain. We might be a part of building the blockchain, but the community participates. The goal is that the community should take over the blockchain and evolve. So what are we building? We are building a financial and social operating system that allows you to represent value identity and governance in one place.”

Painting a brief picture of one of Africa’s major problems, Frederik spoke about the importance of individual identity. “Individuals who don’t have an official identity are cut away from financial markets, health insurance, systems, and operating systems, which we take for granted very in developed countries. By introducing identity, you’re not only enabling access to capital markets, paying taxes, and so forth, but you are enabling p2p lending.

With a prolific quote, Frederik closed off by giving his final thoughts on a thriving ecosystem. “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they shall never sit in. We need to look beyond the absolute returns of tomorrow, beyond the token price, beyond the decision-making, and think about how we can make something last”.

Cape Town, South Africa

It’s only the beginning!

The next CV Labs Africa Webinar takes place at the end of March 2022 and is free for anyone to attend. The keynote speaker for the March 2022 event is Bill Laboon, Director of Education and Community at Web3 Foundation, whose passion is delivering Web 3.0, a decentralized and fair internet where users control their data, identity, and destiny. Polkadot is one of its flagship protocols.

Stay tuned for information about the event, and we hope to see you there!

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