According to Tech Crunch, Nigeria’s Ayodeji Agboola wants to use blockchain to repair Africa’s faulty certificate system. Academic certificates are frequently issued only once, and when they go missing, the issuing university frequently refuses to reissue them, preferring to issue them as an affidavit instead.
As a result, Agboola established Akowe, a Lagos-based firm that has created a blockchain-based platform for the issuance of verifiable academic records. Agboola says he launched his company because of the high demand for digital certificate verification solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
While working as a digital marketing expert running a digital agency in 2018, Agboola considered digitizing certifications. He was then teaching small business owners how to use Facebook for marketing.
“After the training, those business owners needed certificates, about 20,000 certificates to be precise, which we did not want to physically print,” he told Connecting Africa.
He and his team couldn’t find a very simple tool that would issue the new certificates. “So I just decided, you know what? Let’s build this thing,” he said to Tech Crunch. “So this was late 2020. We built it out in three weeks. We demoed it. We tested it for our own certificates. It worked fine. I said, yeah, we’re in business.”
Agboola explained how Akowe works, noting that businesses must first upload their certificate templates as well as a list of recipients’ names. Akowe then makes digital copies of each individual’s academic records automatically. Akowe’s blockchain enables recruiting firms, agencies, or visa officers to validate a person’s tertiary or college certificate, containing metadata such as the URL of the certificate’s hosting location, university names, student names, course, grades, and year of graduation.
For the time being, Agboola runs Akowe as a one-man, bootstrapped operation with the help of contract developers. According to TechCrunch, he provides the platform to institutions for free but takes a part of the prices consumers pay.
According to the creator, it is now finishing pilots with two institutions and is in talks with 15 others. Agboola stated that his biggest issue so far has been dealing with Nigerian public universities, which typically have a bad connotation or understanding of blockchain. He also has to deal with red tape there, he says, adding that private colleges have a better understanding of the business process than state universities because they are profit-oriented.