‘Regulation, taxation, and allocating over $1m to Web3 startups’ -Sankore 2.0’s Kevin Imani sheds light on Kenya’s blockchain sector

Temitope Akintade
Kevin Imani, CEO of Sankore

Kevin Imani first stepped toes into the world of blockchain in 2015 and left for other things before retiring a couple of years later. Eight years down the line, he has grown to become one of the pioneers of the blockchain industry in Kenya and East Africa.

In a conversation with Technext, Kevin Imani sheds light on the technicalities surrounding blockchain regulation and taxation in Kenya and the work Sankore 2.0 is doing.

Blockchain in Kenya 

A friend introduced Kevin Imani to the concept of Bitcoin and its whitepaper in 2015, but he had his hands on so many other things then, so he didn’t concentrate.

“I majored in philosophy and at that time I was focusing on the concept of decentralisation and what that meant also on social and cultural dynamics.”

So, he left and spent time doing other ventures in academia and consultancy. 

Read also: From quitting a legal career to founding a digital nation; here is the story of Eche Emole, founder of Afropolitan 

However, around 2018, the same friend that introduced Kevin to blockchain reached out to him and said some blockchain protocols were trying to get into Africa, and they didn’t know how to.

“I said let me look into this, and from there we started Sankore 2.0.”

Kevin Imani remarks that the huge transaction volumes drew him to explore blockchain in Kenya. 

I wanted to know the reason why Kenya for consecutive years had high crypto p2p volumes. I was curious. Also, there was no reliable data in the ecosystem.”

Additionally, Kevin Imani discovered that Kenya was a consumer market; many enthusiasts were holding and trading crypto, but there were not so many builders on blockchain technology.

So we thought: were they builders as well? Were those building projects trying to scale and raise funds? That was small so we knew we were incredibly early.”

According to Kevin, he and his team organised the first pitch competition in the Kenyan web3 space. “We had a large number of people that applied, but we still realised that the visibility that builders had was still lacking.”

Summarily, the space is early. Eastern African blockchain builders are doing well, and they are excited by the fact there is a huge population that is ready to adopt crypto, according to Kevin Imani.

Kevin Imani, CEO of Sankore
Kevin Imani, CEO of Sankore 2.0

However, Kevin Imani says the Kenya government focuses more on the money being transmitted in the crypto space rather than the technology behind it. The authorities want to tax crypto, not regulate the blockchain technology itself, which puts it in a state of not being legal and, at the same time, not illegal.

But as builders, we need to know from them if it’s legal or if it’s illegal”

Kevin Imani, founder of Sankore 2.0.

Kevin Imani on building Sankore 2.0

Sankore 2.0 is a historical reference to Sankore Mandrasa, which is believed to be the oldest university in Africa. Established by Mansa Musa in Mali, ancient learning centres were built, which later metamorphosed into a university in the last millennium. 

This is something that was built by Africans for the world. My ambition was to echo these values as Africans into today’s 21st century. We have everything in us to rebuild the most innovative centers and to make sure that young people can be role models in the world of tech. That was the mission behind Sankore.”

Sankore 2.0
Sankore 2.0

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The focus is on how blockchain can be used for a wider population. To ensure that Africans can build towards this market, Sankore is building communities geared towards that goal. 

We are the first company that built a community as a service specifically for protocol. We’ve, in less than six months, allocated more than a million dollars to startups that are building on web3. This is something that is rarely done. 

Because of our reach, we’ve managed to reach incubating programs. We are positioned as an allocator of funding and have invested in more than twenty projects.”

Kenya and crypto

Kevin Imani believes all Africans can leverage blockchain technology. In his words, an entrepreneur should work towards solving the biggest problems while users should strive towards proper blockchain education. 

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