Inside IOTA Foundation partnership deal with TradeMark East Africa


IOTA Foundation, a global non-profit foundation focused on the research and development of blockchain technologies, this week gave an update on its strategic partnership with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

The two organisations announced a partnership last month with the aim to support TMEA in its vision for improving trade using IOTA’s distributed ledger technology. To this end, TMEA will conduct various initiatives aimed at improving data collaboration between companies in the East African region.

Additionally, the use of IOTA’s Tangle technology is expected to increase the global competitiveness of East African products by facilitating more cost-effective and transparent supply chains.  

Bringing IOTA’s Tangle to East African Trade

IOTA’s Tangle technology is the first open-source distributed ledger specifically built to provide trust through a transparent and verifiable chain of custody. Its underlying data structure enables secure and transparent recording of trade certificates, events and specifications of products moving across global food supply chains.

“This partnership provides us access to a technology where we can test the value of decentralized data management and have control mechanisms of the underlying infrastructure,” said Alban Odhiambo, Senior Director, Trade Environment, TradeMark East Africa.

TradeMark East Africa is a well-respected organisation in the East Africa region and is known worldwide for its work to improve livelihoods through enhanced trade. The organisation has been busy working with various stakeholders to improve trading systems in East Africa.

But its ambitions, which extends to national governments, the private sector, community and civil society organisations, certainly doesn’t stop there.

Trade Logistics Information Pipeline

In a video update, the IOTA Foundation said that the first area of the collaboration is the development of a Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP) platform. The platform is designed to create a “technology highway of interconnectivity” that facilitates secure and transparent communication between East African companies and government agencies and their international partners.

According to the TLIP project page, the platform aims to improve cross-border trade by enhancing information exchange and eliminating fraud-prone paper documents from the supply chain. As a result, it will ensure data integrity and remove lengthy verification procedures associated with cross-border trade.

TLIP will also provide a transparent, efficient and cost-effective way to manage trade information across borders through the use of bilateral information exchange agreements between East Africa and its foreign trading partners.

One of the major challenges of traders from East Africa face is the lengthy clearance procedures at European airports that their products are subjected to due to non-transparent documentation. For example, Brazilian coffee is cleared to Europe faster than Ugandan coffee, according to studies.

These are some of the discrepancies TLIP aims to address by leveraging blockchain technology to provide European authorities real-time and reliable information about the content and nature of coffee exports from Uganda.

Read Also: How blockchain facilitates Intra-African trade

Jens Munch Lund-Nielsen, Head of Supply Chain and Global Trade at IOTA Foundation explained the objectives of the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline:

“The technology we use with the Distributed Ledger is permissionless and about bringing trust to all actors so that they trust each other when they exchange the data. The cross-border trade cost has an enormous on the cost of goods, the cost of goods has an enormous on how much jobs and how much we can buy.”

The IOTA Foundation is also working with traders in Kenya on a similar project called Tulip which Lund-Nielsen said will enhance cross-border trade by accelerating shipments, minimizing failures and improving product competitiveness overseas.

It is also worth noting that the IOTA Foundation is also training local Kenyan developers on ways IOTA’s technology can be utilised for trade and supply chain purposes. The goal is to build a talent pool in the region that will give local people access to IOTA innovations and thereby drive further use cases.

Trade Logistics Information Pipeline is being developed by the IOTA Foundation alongside government agencies and East African revenue authorities. The project is valued at $4 million and will be implemented between 2019 and 2020.

Last year, TradeMark East Africa signed a partnership deal with the Africa Union boost intra-African trade implementation across East Africa.

But what’s most exciting is the potential for adoption; the marriage of blockchain and trade, with the East Africa region, now being primed for adoption.

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About the author

Vincent Olago

Vincent Olago

Vincent Olago is the Managing Editor of Ledger Africa and has been active in the blockchain space for three years now. He's passionate about entrepreneurship and the potential of disruptive blockchain technologies to reshape our world. He supports startups to tackle blockchain challenges, address strategic problems and optimize growth.