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[Interview] We’re driving Web3 adoption in Africa, Polygon’s Damilare says


Web3 is the latest iteration of the Internet that relies largely on blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (AI). In Africa, it’s relatively a new concept that promises a free, open, and decentralised world.

One of the biggest ambassadors of Web 3 in Africa is Polygon, a blockchain scalability platform that addresses the challenges faced by Ethereum.

In this interview, TechTrendsKE sat down with Damilare Aregbesola, the Developer Marketing Manager for Africa at Polygon to understand how the firm is championing Web3. Damilare also shares some insights about the ongoing Polygon Africa Web3 BootCamp.

Damilare is in charge of telling the story of Polygon’s scaling solutions to African developers and likewise those of African developers building on Polygon to the world.

Polygone blockchain scalability platform that addresses the challenges faced by Ethereum. Tell us about this. 

Present-day Ethereum faces two major challenges: scalability problems and expensive transaction fees. On average, Ethereum can currently process 15 transactions per second (TPS). Comparing this to Visa or Mastercard’s TPS of about 2000, you’d agree it’ll almost be impossible for the whole world to make use of the Ethereum network. It just can’t scale. That alone will hinder mass adoption. This scalability problem is what causes the various spikes in transaction fees on the ETH network. As more transactions are queued up on the network, congestion kicks into play. The faster you want your transaction to be processed, the more you have to be willing to pay in fees.

Polygon scaling solutions were built to solve these very two problems. Polygon is a layer 2 network, building different scaling solutions on top of Ethereum to solve both the scalability and affordability problems. At Polygon, we do have a range of scaling technologies to do this, namely: the Polygon PoS chain, Polygon Zero, and the recently announced Polygon zkEVM amongst others. As a Layer 2 network built on Ethereum, these scaling solutions inherit Ethereum’s security & decentralization but help to solve both the scalability & affordability problems. This explains why all of the big players like Stripe, Meta, etc chose to build on Polygon.

Why specifically Ethereum? 

Ethereum is the Largest Smart Contract platform in the world, and the most secure at that too. Why build a new Smart contract platform when you can help make the already existing one perfect?

Tell us about some of the blockchain scaling technologies you’ve built around Ethereum.

Our most adopted scaling solution today is the Polygon PoS (Proof of Stake) Chain. This is a side-chain built on top of Ethereum, that inherits the security of the Ethereum mainnet, but helps to make transactions faster & approximately 10,000x less cheap. It does this by serving as an offramp for transactions on the Ethereum mainnet, but keeps a copy of every transaction processed and relays it back to the Ethereum mainnet. It’s a very technical process but I’m trying to explain it in the best layman’s terms possible, lol.

Polygon is also among the biggest ambassadors of Web 3 in Africa with founder  Sandeep Nailwal even launching a new crypto-focused venture capital firm with $50 million in the bank in August this year.  How would you describe the Web3 space in Africa right now?

It’s pretty scanty, to be honest. There is a lot of interest amongst youths, especially in countries like Nigeria and Kenya, but most don’t have access to adequate learning resources to better understand the space. As you said, there aren’t many global Web3 players doing much in the continent right now, except Polygon. That was one of the main reasons why we initiated the Polygon Africa Bootcamp.

Why is it so important for Africa to have conversations around Web3?

To be very honest, we face a lot of Financial complications in Africa and only the Blockchain has proved to be very helpful in solving these problems. Let’s take a look at Cross-border payments & movement of funds across Africa. Currently, for a Nigerian citizen, It’s extremely difficult to transfer funds to a friend or family in another country. For traders & businesses, it’s even more difficult, as you would have to make use of local national banks who might take days or weeks to process such transactions, charging exorbitant fees whilst doing that. But with Cryptocurrency, this can be done in 5mins.

Web3 represents the next generation of the internet, one that focuses on shifting power from big tech companies to individual users. Why is this shift so important?

It’s simple; who do you trust more – yourself or another person? Would you rather trust another entity with your assets, data and identity for them to do whatsoever they deem fit with it, or trust yourself to keep these properties safe? Would you prefer they have total control over your assets than having control over it yourself? I guess not.

Still, on Web3, you recently opened applications for the Polygon Web3 Bootcamp with participants across different African countries. Tell us about this Bootcamp.

The Bootcamp is simply a project to place African blockchain developers on the global map and connect them with global opportunities. It’s an 8-week intensive event that comprises 6 weeks of learning phase and a 2 weeks hackathon phase. Participants of this Bootcamp will be taught how to build decentralized applications on the blockchain and will be given the space to practically do that, winning financial prizes and funding opportunities along the way.

Why was it necessary for you to host this Bootcamp and what should you developers taking part expect?

As I’ve previously hinted, Africans have always been latecomers to emerging tech trends. Not really because of our lack of interest & exposure, but mainly because Africa has always seemed like an afterthought in the minds of the global companies championing such trends. With this, Polygon intends to change that narrative. It’s a value-packed opportunity for every developer participating, with the quality of the curriculum prepared and the various workshops that will be taken by Engineers from Polygon and other global Web3 players. Its one that I’m positive will change lives.

There is still a  low uptake of blockchain technology in Africa, how’s Polygon ensuring that this actually changes in the coming years? 

We have actually hosted & sponsored numerous events across Africa such as ETHSafari in Kenya, African Money & DeFi Summit in Ghana, CryptoFest in South Africa, TechNext Coinference in Nigeria, amongst numerous others to spread information about the blockchain and what it can do for the African continent. We have also partnered with quite a number of Developer communities across Africa likewise, such as Web3Bridge, Web3Ladies, etc. in training and equipping them with the necessary resources needed to transition into a full-fledged Blockchain developer.

The Polygon Africa Bootcamp is also the latest project we’re onto, in making sure we place African developers on the global blockchain map. We’ve done a lot, and we will continue to do more, until all of Africa’s financial complications are actually being solved using the blockchain.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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