NEAR Foundation has partnered with blockchain community Sankore to launch a regional hub in Kenya dedicated to blockchain innovation, education and talent development throughout the African continent.

NEAR Foundation is a Swiss non-profit that oversees the governance and development of the NEAR protocol.

Kenya ranked fifth in last year’s Global Crypto Adoption Index, and Kenyans are already directly trading cryptocurrencies with each other. Besides expanding throughout Nairobi, NEAR is also reaching lesser-known cities in Kenya where no other Layer 1 blockchain has an established presence as yet.

The hub will be led by Kevin Imani, the founder of Sankore, and supported by a core team of four members. The NEAR Hub will comprise of events, an academy, an incubation program, and the Sankore Bounty ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to be working with NEAR to educate and nurture talented individuals to become world-class blockchain developers,” said Kevin Imani, who will lead the NEAR hub in Kenya. “Our dream is to lead the way in blockchain innovations in providing solutions to Africa’s biggest problems. The NEAR Protocol allows tomorrow’s brightest developers to build custom solutions with scalability, security, and transparency and this hub is the next step in turning our shared vision into reality.”

Sankore has in the past hosted NEAR-Meets, where Kenyans gather to gain blockchain education and meet people in the NEAR ecosystem. A recent event held in Nakuru focused on Harnessing Opportunities in Web3 with a NEAR-Certified Developer advising local developers on acquiring blockchain certification and NEAR Developer Certification.

The education arm of the hub has already made strong connections with local universities, with 77 registered students in the NEAR Certified Developer Workshops. Seven students have registered to the NEAR Certified Analysts Workshops, and six students already officially certified as developers.

Sankore has previously gained local traction by supporting several forward-thinking projects such as Kilimo Shwari. It is an on-chain solution seeking to hedge Kenyan farmers against agricultural uncertainties such as bad weather and calamities like the recent locust invasion in Kenya. The insurance is based on smart contracts, gathering data on uncertainties and automatically compensating farmers. Another incubated project is Ledja, which tackles fraud throughout the African region, and fights against forged documentation. By cooperating with higher learning institutions and initiating document digitisation using NEAR Protocol, it enables much faster, safer, and more secure document verification.

“We are excited by the potential avenues throughout Africa for blockchain solutions, which come from innovation in development, education and talent,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation. “This hub represents a unique opportunity to partner with local talent not only for the opportunities that we know exist today but also for the opportunities yet to be created in the future.”

NEAR gives software developers easy access to create new crypto applications, from Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to decentralised finance products and launching new business models and consumer products. The NEAR blockchain acts as a bridge to other blockchains, allowing for the free flow of assets and communication between networks for the betterment of all.