In the next five years, blockchain will have real plays in Nigerian businesses and building native blockchain applications would be huge opportunities. We would have themes, packages, developer-primitives etc that would make it possible for people to build blockchain-compatible websites and mobile apps. WordPress would need to make plugins to enable blockchain-related applications to interface with the current WordPress framework. I also think browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox would evolve. As those happen, there would be new opportunities in Nigeria, for entrepreneurs and startups. The key is making sure one is prepared and ready to help in fixing this emerging business friction.
People, we have a huge opportunity ahead of us right now in the world. And Nigeria can play a major role. Yes, we lost in the Internet 1.0 and the present Internet 2.0 where we are mere participants. The next one, Internet 3.0, should not pass us by. In my upcoming innovation workshop, we would look at this during my State of the Tech Nation address.
Internet 1.0 and Internet 2.0
Internet 1.0 could be likened to the dialup era (using wired phone lines to get Internet). Internet 2.0 is the mobile broadband of today. You can put Yahoo and AOL as the faces of Internet 1.0 while Facebook, Tencent and Google match well for internet 2.0. For Internet 3.0, there is no dominant player now (the phase is still at Irruption & Frenzy phases, see plot). Most of the current companies may not evolve to get there.
That Internet 3.0 will be distributed and I expect most frameworks to break down in the way we have organized firms to fix frictions in markets. If commerce becomes distributed, the concept of firms in most sectors would struggle because massive disintermediation will happen. How can you be a bank if customers can do banking directly and effectively with no intermediary?
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain has been heralded as one of the most exciting new technologies with capabilities to redesign industrial sectors over the next few years. It is “a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.” Wikipedia explains it as “a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography”.
Industry Blockchain technology can be applied to a wide range of industries and applications, but not all of them. Common use cases include financial, logistics, real estate, health care, and retail sectors. Industries relying heavily on payment processing and financial transactions have the most common uses for blockchain technology. The public ledger helps streamline processes, increase documentation, and reduce fraud. Logistics companies can benefit from increased documentation of costs, labor, fleets, and shipments. Health care providers and other companies holding large amounts of sensitive information can improve data security using blockchain technology. Other industries can utilize blockchain technology as well, but consider finding examples before committing.
The Nigerian Opportunity
Nigeria operates on a distributed system; we have minimal govt impacts (centralization is only on sharing money, not services). Communities build themselves in distributed ways through town unions. That natural element should spur models for us to be creators in Internet 3.0 as technology accelerates what we have been doing for decades.
Internet 3.0 is going to be massive because from central banks to stock exchanges, under a perfect internet, all frictions would be gone and the existence of entities would be imperiled. When marginal cost becomes absolute zero in a perfect distributed Internet, it would be a new world. We must prepare because if Internet collapses power, Africa would benefit, provided we are ready.
How to Prepare
The most exciting skill coming up in the next few years would be building digital technology solutions on blockchain. That would be integrated and fused with AI (artificial intelligence). But while AI may take longer, in Nigeria, because of the data availability issues, blockchain will advance due to the cost savings most of the participants will enjoy.
I do expect in the next two years a top-grade training institution that would prepare people on building on blockchain to emerge in Lagos [Think of NIIT, ApTech etc which helped on Oracle in Lagos]. I also expect unification in the nation on non-major-currency-tied tokens which can be used for Nigeria-domiciled blockchain contracts.
Internet 3.0 is going to be very exciting. Developing capabilities in that domain would be extremely rewarding. When companies see they can cut intermediaries to serve customers, keeping all the money in-house, they would adopt. And to make that happen, they would need help. That is the main reason why this would be huge. You need to prepare for this future.