With over sixteen years of experience in project management and business development, Mohammed Ibrahim Jega is a Nigerian entrepreneur, blockchain enthusiast and technology startup founder.
In an interview with Technext, the Kaduna-born Fintech expert shares his experience in the African blockchain space and the amazing work he is doing with Domineum Blockchain.
Mohammed Ibrahim Jega says although he had heard of Bitcoin, he knew close to nothing about blockchain technology and crypto when he started taking on roles in the industry. Also, he was a bit nervous about starting a new job role in an entirely new space and learning a complicated new technology.
“Blockchain is so new and innovations are happening so frequently that everyone is continuously learning about crypto. One of the main reasons I picked interest in the technology was how inspiring it is and the value of Continuous Learning. From my very first day in the office, my coworkers helped me understand Blockchain more and more.”
According to Mohammed, there are people out there who are interested in Blockchain but are hesitant to dive in. He says he was the same way and hopes his journey can help anybody who is Blockchain-curious realise how exciting the space is.
On the appealing attributes of blockchain technology, he says:
“The goal of blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed, but not edited. In this way, a blockchain is a foundation for immutable ledgers, or records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed. These attributes spur me to advocate the adoption of the technology in developing African nations looking to eliminate corruption and maintain transparency. Proper implementation of blockchain technology would ensure an open, secure and transparent Africa-led global infrastructure to unlock unlimited liquidity and create a level playing field for all participants in both private and public sectors by eliminating entry barriers.”
Mohammed Ibrahim Jega states that the creation of blockchain technology brought up many advantages in a variety of industries, providing increased security in trustless environments. Since blockchain data is often stored in thousands of devices on a distributed network of nodes, the system and the data are highly resistant to technical failures and malicious attacks.
He also remarks that its decentralised nature has its weaknesses. For instance, when compared to traditional centralized databases, blockchains present limited efficiency and require increased storage capacity.
Blockchain regulation in Nigeria
Blockchain regulation is arguably the most controversial discourse in the space. Some proponents maintain that any form of regulation or policing, no matter how minute, is a direct contrast to what blockchain technology stands for, which is decentralisation.
But, Mohammed says Blockchain investors should welcome it.
“For starters, regulating cryptocurrencies could be a healthy development for the Blockchain industry, at least where everyday investors are concerned. Greater regulatory guidance, if well targeted, could help reduce speculation among crypto assets. Less speculation can lead to higher investor confidence, which could draw in more long-term investors who have so far said no thanks to a highly speculative, volatile crypto market.
Even if it doesn’t bring more people in, it may change people’s current behaviour. Blockchain enthusiasts claim there are a lot of benefits cryptocurrency has over fiat currency and other asset classes, but those benefits can only come to full fruition if an appropriate regulatory framework is put into place.”
Commenting on how regulation contrasts the revolutionary principle of blockchain:
“The decentralised nature of Blockchains like Bitcoin which, unlike traditional currencies, aren’t backed by any institution or government authority is a big draw. So in this view, any new regulation would pose a threat to the decentralisation that is a feature, rather than a bug.
The new regulation also has the potential to protect long-term investors, prevent fraudulent activity within the crypto ecosystem, and provide clear guidance to allow companies to innovate in the crypto economy. But forthcoming regulation will need to strike the right balance.”
Bringing the discourse home, over the past few years, emerging economies have come to the forefront of blockchain adoption, with Nigeria being one of the frontrunners. Despite having a not-too-rosy socio-economic situation, the “Giant of Africa,” as fondly called, is making great strides in adopting blockchain’s technological innovation.
“According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2020, 32% of Nigerians have admitted to using or owning cryptocurrencies. If we consider this number on its own, it’s pretty impressive. It gets even more impressive when we take into account that in 2021 alone global crypto users were pegged at 300 million worldwide.
Nigeria is no different and, similarly to many countries on the African continent, suffers from a shortage of infrastructure solutions that the citizens of developed countries take for granted. For example, over 60 million Nigerians do not have access to the banking system! A fact made more tragic due to 79% of financially excluded Nigerian adults resides in rural areas.
Additionally, it is no secret that corruption and lack of transparency are the order of the day. Police extortion and land fraud occur regularly. The economic woes that struck the global economy during the Covid-19 pandemic also made their mark on the Nigerian economy by driving inflation. This created a thriving black market for exchanging the naira as the government regularly undervalues the national currency.”
Mohammed Ibrahim Jega says those challenges resulted in a youthful tech-savvy populace dynamically adopting blockchain technology as their solution.
“Despite numerous government crackdowns, this impressive adoption rate continues to gain traction, with 2021 being a record year. Nigerians flocked to P2P cryptocurrency trading and investments in the Nigerian blockchain sector soared to new heights. An unquestionable force in dictating this adoption rate is that 70% of Nigeria’s population is under 30, making Nigeria a country consisting almost entirely of citizens who grew up in the Internet age.
Though, NITDA has played a role in hastening the adoption of blockchain solutions in Nigeria. The key area in which their engagement is in launching industry-wide education campaigns. These programs have informed Nigerians about the impact of this novel technology. A core element of this educational campaign has promoted the privacy-enhancing qualities of blockchain. The private sector is also uniquely positioned to address many unbanked citizens’ challenges.
Currently, Domineum is engaging the democratically elected officials and also expected to spearhead a dialogue on blockchain technology between the various stakeholders in the blockchain ecosystem.”
Mohammed Ibrahim Jega urges the Nigerian authorities to create a more enabling environment for blockchain.
“By exploring opportunities offered through blockchain technology and digital currencies, Nigeria stands to gain at least $29 billion in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030, as well as improved cross-border trade.
Nigeria’s participation in the blockchain technology global market, especially in cryptocurrencies, has been markedly recognised. Unlocking this inherent potential requires creating a level playing field for all participants in both private and public sectors by eliminating entry barriers. This does not, however, imply total liberalisation or allowing self-rule to regulate the Nigerian blockchain ecosystem.
However, the need for regulation as stated by me earlier will give a fillip to the tech-savvy youth to innovate, spur the confidence of tech investors, and attract significant investments in the blockchain ecosystem.
There is also a need for stakeholder education and sensitization and the creation of platforms for traditional veterans to collaborate with tech entrepreneurs to unlock the value in the technology in Africa.”
Domineum Blockchain, NFTs and the future
Mohammed Ibrahim Jega is a co-founder of Domineum Blockchain Solutions, a leading Distributed Ledger Technology Company in Africa.
On the sterling qualities that set the ecosystem from others, Mohammed Ibrahim Jega says:
“Domineum is seen to be spearheading the Blockchain adoption in Africa with an industry + Academia partnership with Baze university that is set to build capacity for young people and also be a launch back for training and preparing them for the future. This is the first of its kind in Africa and it stands out the building and unlocking a lot of potential by exploring the powerful capabilities that the BSV Blockchain offers and thereby accelerating blockchain adoption in Africa.
Domineum is also seeking to build a world Blockchain hub which can be seen to be the latest update coming from Domineum. It has already signed agreements with several universities across Africa and other countries to incorporate blockchain into its school curriculum.
We are also working with governments in Africa to transition their data into Blockchain protocol.”
According to Mohammed Ibrahim Jega, educating more people about the capabilities of the BSV Blockchain will inevitably turn them into ambassadors. Small meetups on different campuses and blockchain events in countries will bolster this and opportunities to pitch ideas and boost engagement.
‘‘There’s a lot of fighting around Bitcoin and blockchain. So we need to also showcase some of the value propositions. Why Domineum Blockchain Solutions? We need to amplify this, we need to make it very clear, and share it with different communities in different African countries.”
NFTs have been gaining traction in the last couple of years. Away from the hype and buzz, it is billed to be the future of ownership. Mohammed Ibrahim Jega says the concept is a new way for people to enjoy themselves while making money.
“A few years ago, a very small fraction of investors saw potential in NFTs. But in 2021, the market opened up to massive NFT pitches globally. NFTs have come a long way from the time when only celebrities created and sold them for millions. “NFTs are slowly but surely becoming a part of our everyday lives. Not only are NFTs a great business opportunity, they are also a new way for people to enjoy themselves while making money.
NFTs utilize blockchain technology to ascertain the legitimacy and ownership of digital content. Every token has its own distinctive and non-interchangeable data recorded on an online blockchain ledger, which helps to prove ownership. Hence, no two NFT works can be the same even if they look visually identical, which is why they are “non-fungible.”
With the rising popularity of blockchain and cryptocurrency in recent years, NFT technology has given some digital artists, creators, and corporations a far more financially rewarding market to create and sell their works than ever before.
But since the concept and its applications are still being refined, including real-world functionality and the potential environmental impact of NFTs, what may be a fad now can offer yet-to-be imagined developments in the future.”
Going forward, Mohammed Ibrahim Jega’s target is to train and educate thousands of blockchain enthusiasts, create opportunities for them and also be a frontrunner in stimulating Blockchain adoption in Africa.
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