Uganda CryptoSavannah Launches Blockchain Identity And Money Transfer Project For Refugees In Partnership With CoinBase


CryptoSavannah, a Ugandan crypto and blockchain company, announced a project in partnership with Coinbase and Mercy Corps to provide blockchain-based solutions that advance economic empowerment and financial inclusion for refugees and host communities in Uganda.

The project aims to address critical challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers, such as the inability to access appropriate and affordable financial services due to slow and inefficient identity systems that act as barriers to access to mobile services in their host country.


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The problem

According to the UNHCR, Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and the 3rd largest in the world, at more than 1.5 million, and the number has been rising since 2018.

The refugees come from various parts of East Africa (different jurisdictions) that are wracked by conflict, with these countries leading in terms of the number of refugees residing in Uganda:

south sudan 61.3% 939 138
Dem. Rep. from Congo 28.3% 433,747
Somalia 3.8% 58,085
Burundi 2.7% 41,766
Rwanda 1.7% 25,638
Eritrea 1.6% 23,905
Ethiopia 0.3% 4,664
Sudan 0.2% 3,809
Source: UNHCR

However, one of the biggest challenges is that these refugees must present approved identity documents before a SIM card or mobile money service can be activated by a mobile network operator (MNO) in Uganda.

The delay in identity verification between MNOs and humanitarian organizations also results in delays in receiving aid disbursements, registration for education, employment, medical and financial services for refugees. .

“Our solution aims to digitize already existing refugee identities via our blockchain platform which will act as an attestation layer for refugee identity issuer databases.”

– CryptoSavannah

The project will test the solution through 2 pilot programs with 35,000 targeted people:

The first pilot is a digital ID platform which is powered by a blockchain that will be built to verify identity and facilitate digital transactions. Some of the services that a verifiable credential source can be used to access include:

  • Aid disbursements
  • Government services
  • Formal financial services
  • Integration into wider society

Refugees will also receive digital proof of identity where credentials can be recorded, such as education, certifications, etc.

This pilot project would serve as a basic infrastructure for refugees to prove their identity, facilitating their digital, financial and economic inclusion.

The second pilot will build on the first, so that each participant establishes a digital wallet which can be used to receive, store and spend funds.

Crypto-based transfers will be distributed to mobile wallets and all transactions will be recorded on an immutable blockchain, which will increase transparency and security.

Some of the expected benefits for participants of the second pilot project include:

  • Reduced potential for diversion, corruption and fraud
  • Increased personal security for employees and beneficiaries
  • Greater transparency on funding flows for donors and aid organizations

This pilot project could revolutionize money transfer programs for aid organizations globally, shifting from traditional payment modalities to crypto.


RECOMMENDED READING: A Conversation with the Director of CryptoSavannah, Uganda’s Blockchain Hub


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