FOR most people in Tanzania, blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrency are just complicated technological concepts not worthy bothering about.
They are just fantasies!! It is not the case for Sandra Chogo. She is obsessed with these technological progressions, and has already taken measures to sensitise fellow Tanzanians via social media platforms, television, meetings and conferences.
She is worried that Tanzania is being left behind by these technological developments brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The advancements are evolving very fast.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Sandra says, is already knocking at our doors, and experts say it will digitalise almost everything and change the world as we know it today.
“It is not a thing of the future, it is already here with us,” Sandra likes to tell people.
In simple terms, Blockchain is the platform that digitalization is taking place, whereas Bitcoin is digitalization of money, and it is the first application to the platform, while Cryptocurrency include Bitcoin and alternative coins (Altcoins). Other experts explain Bitcoin as a form of electronic cash.
It is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.
She was introduced to Blockchain and Cryptocurrency in 2016 while almost everybody in the country was saying those were bad things, and whoever was involved with them was seen as a conman.
But, thanks to her science background which made her to reason everything she hears or read; she decided to dig deeper into those new concepts.
She has gone further. She is now taking a master of science in Digital currency from the University of Nicosia.
As part of her efforts to sensitise fellow Tanzanians, in February 2018 she collaborated with the Institute of Accountancy Arusha and conducted a three-day short course on Blockchain awareness, and issued the first certificates.
She has had sessions with University of Dar es Salaam BCom and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) students.
She has talked to diverse audiences on Blockchain awareness in Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and Morocco. Why should we bother about these things?
According to Sandra, we are now in the 4th Industrial Revolution, where digitalization of systems and processes is taking place globally, and that individuals, institutions and governments should take this very seriously.
In the 1st Industrial Revolution, humans started using water infrastructure and stem engines. In the 2nd Industrial Revolution, people started using electricity.
In the 3rd Industrial Revolution, people started using electronic equipment and internet (Phase 1). According to the scientist, countries worldwide are trying to regulate blockchain and cryptocurrencies, with Africa being left behind.
In Dubai, it is envisioned that by the end of 2020, all government documents will be already digitalized.
In this region, she explains, Kenya and Uganda have formed taskforces for the implementation of technologies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Kenya has already launched her Digital Economy Blueprint, whose vision is stated as: “A digitally empowered citizenry, living in a digitally enabled society.”
The blueprint comprises five pillars—Digital Government, Digital Business, Infrastructure, Innovation-driven entrepreneurship and Digital skills and values.
Rwanda is implementing a lot of things, including making Kigali a centre of excellence for Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence.
Experts agree that Africa’s economic transformation and prosperity are hinged on the mastery of technology, and that time is now to build the necessary infrastructure and skills in Africa for the continent to benefit from the digital economy as brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
According to Prof. George Magoha who is the chair for the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) governing council, the African continent has to promote digital jobs.
He is of the opinion that there is also need for universities to carry out research that responds to African problems.
Jaime Saavedra, senior Director for World Bank Global Practice, says new jobs will demand a combination of three different kinds of skills, namely fundamental skills, social motion skills, and digital skills.
Blockchain, according to her, is disrupting many industries globally, and it will affect careers, business functions, economy, management style, governance systems among others, and it will result into absolute new jobs.
Sandra strongly thinks that Blockchain education should go up to universities. “Universities abroad are changing their syllabus to accommodate it,” she notes.
Her liking to science has roots from her family. Sandra was born in Arusha in 1976, to a father who was a chemist and a mother who was a pharmacist. She was a poor performer in primary school, and most of the time she was among the five bottom students.
But things improved later, while in Arusha Secondary School, she got division One and took Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) at her A Level studies, where she got division
Three. It is her father who forced her to do science subjects, and had to enrol for a medical course and later work at Wasso Hospital in Loliondo as an Assistant Medical personnel, but she was not happy because of low salary and poor working environment, which was worse when she moved to Dar es salaam after getting married. “It was difficult to grow, and I wanted to be somewhere where I can be recognized,” she says.
In 2004, she decided to join IFM College for a three-year advanced diploma course in Accountancy, where she emerged the best student in Auditing.
In 2009, she joined the National Audit Office, where she works until now as an auditor. Sandra doesn’t have a role model.
Her driving force was always asking herself the following: “If others can do it, why not me? If men can do it, why not women? If Europeans can do it, why not Africans?”
She says that women should make sure that they plan their time wisely, otherwise they might end up concentrating on their careers at the cost of their families.
Girl’s empowerment She advocates for exposing girls to the outside world as a way of empowering them. “I am who I am after I got exposed and saw what other women/girls out there are doing.
The courage and confidence which they have changed my mind,” she notes. She is of the opinion those lowering girls’ qualifications as a way to empower them to become future women scientists is a wrong approach.
“Such favours continue to make girls weak,” she says, adding that women are underrepresented in scientific fields because of “Fear of the unknown.”
Parents should encourage their girls and tell them that they are able to do everything. If they will do so, they will give them the power to try.
Sandra believes in selfawareness, self-motivation, seeking for knowledge and persistence for a woman to become a renowned scientist.
She notes that in order to survive, young people should be aggressive to seek for knowledge that is beyond their careers as this will enable them either to employ themselves or have a competitive advantage over other candidates.
She further advises them that they should not put money first, because if someone has competence, money will automatically follow him/her.
“They should focus on global employment, and not just local employment,” Sandra, a mother of two boys and a girl, says.