Old Meets New in Uganda as Ancient Royal Family Champions Crypto Revolution

  • $DALA cryptocurrency sidesteps Uganda’s impractically expensive financial system, bringing financial inclusion to hundreds of thousands of people
  • Bugandan Prince champions $DALA as a potential solution to widespread problem of lack of access to electricity in Uganda

Uganda is the site of a growing crypto-aided financial experiment which potentially shifts the paradigm of crypto as the preserve of speculators, Western libertarians and Venezuelans with no choice due to a collapsed national fiat currency.

Launched by South Africa startup Wala, $DALA is an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency that has brought hundreds of thousands of people across Southeast Africa out of financial exclusion that they previously faced due to the country’s impractically expensive financial system. $DALA is able to offer financial services including airtime top-up, money transfer and even payments for school fees on a practically zero-fee basis.

Following $DALA’s successful ICO last year which raised $1.2 million, more than 100,000 $DALA wallets have been opened, with over 2.5 million transactions processed since the token launched in May 2018.

Operating on a flexible, multi-chain basis that uses Ether for the wallet and Stellar for transactions, $DALA gives millions of African users access to cheap, efficient and seamless, cross-border financial services enabling them to transact, borrow and save using a decentralised financial system that is much cheaper and more accessible than what was previously obtainable.

$DALA’s Electricity Partnership with CPEM

$DALA is also involved with a new gigawatt-scale $1.5 billion electricity project in Uganda that aims to make it easy for Ugandans to take part in a blockchain-enabled clean energy economy. Energy company CleanPath Emerging Markets Uganda (CPEM), cofounded by Prince Kudra Kalema of the Buganda Kingdom - an ancient royal lineage going back to the 14th century - is behind the initiative, alongside the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Speaking to TechCrunch about the proposed framework, Prince Kalema said:

We began using the $DALA protocol because it became very clear that the financial structure in Uganda was not adequate. It was clear we needed something. There is no way the Uganda shilling is stable enough for the type of program we are doing. Wala was already invested in the same country and wasn’t just about the idea of a running a crypto coin in an emerging market, but was also about creating the best type of financial institutions for the country. That goes hand in hand with what we are doing. It became a no-brainer.

Prince Kalema

Also speaking about the project to TechCrunch recently, Wala co-founder and CEO Tricia Martinez remarked:

The numbers we’ve seen since the launch of $DALA have been staggering, and a large portion of our current users are Ugandan, so this partnership is a natural next step to allow users the opportunity to further benefit from using $DALA. The high level of user traffic also shows us that Ugandans are ready to use crypto assets in their day-to-day transactions.

Tricia Martinez

Under the framework, Ugandans will be able to buy solar energy from the new project using $DALA, while CPEM will use DALA’s blockchain platform to organise its ledger, smart vendor contracts and partner commitments. Workers and vendors will also be paid in $DALA according to the framework.

Vitalik: A 'Proper' DEX Could Bridge the Bitcoin and Ethereum Ecosystems

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has argued on Twitter that a decentralized exchange could bridge the top two cryptocurrencies in the space, Bitcoin and Ethereum, in a trustless way.

Per the Ethereum co-founder, the community should put resourced toward a “proper” decentralized exchange that would allow users to trade Ethereum for Bitcoin and vice-versa. The exchange, he said, should be like Uniswap, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange on the Ethereum blockchain that doesn’t have order books, but instead sees users trade against its reserves.

These reserves are pooled between a “decentralized network of liquidity providers who collect fees on every trade,” and the prices on each trade are automatically created based on a specific formula.

Decentralized exchanges have notably failed to gain traction so far, struggling to gain market share while competing against centralized trading platforms. According to CryptoCompare, as of December 2019 decentralized exchanges captured only 0.01% of the cryptocurrency space’s total trading volume.

In a follow-up tweet, Buterin added that decentralized exchanged bridging the Ethereum ecosystem with those of other cryptocurrencies should also be built. The co-founder of Eth noted he discussed the idea with Zooko Wilcox, CEO of the Electric Coin Company, which was behind the creation of the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Zcash.

It’s worth noting that existing decentralized exchanges are geared towards one specific blockchain. Most are on the Ethereum blockchain, although there are decentralized exchanges for TRON’s TRCtokens and for Binance’s BEP tokens, for example.

Featured image via Unsplash.