Cardano ADA is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, currently behind the likes of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Ripple (XRP). With thousands of altcoins out in the expanding crypto-ocean, it can be tricky to assess which one to bet on. In this post, I will give you two solid reasons to invest in Cardano ADA (although this should not be considered as financial advice).
First, in contrast to any other cryptocurrency you have heard of, Cardano has been developed in collaboration with top universities around the globe. Every major aspect of the system has been carefully peer-reviewed by leading minds in the blockchain industry. Compared to other blockchains, Cardano’s academic foundation makes a more convincing case for government agencies to collaborate with them.
Secondly, Cardano helps to manage several interesting projects in Africa, including the world’s largest-ever blockchain deal between Cardano’s R&D company, IOHK, and the Ethiopian government. The projects in Africa are not only serving a good humanitarian cause but also aim to exploit Africa’s enormous untapped, economic potential. In this post, I will zoom in on two particularly interesting projects which run, or will run, on Cardano’s blockchain: Atala Prism and World Mobile.
Let’s dive into it.
Cardano’s Academic/Scientific Approach
The first major selling point that makes the Cardano team stand out from competitors is their academic, research-oriented approach to developing a blockchain system.
Most cryptocurrencies have been developed “behind the curtains”. Typically, they launch after the publication of a white paper (Bitcoin’s white paper here, Ethereum’s white paper here), while scientific scrutiny by peers and influence from academic institutions is left out of the initiation process. Cardano is different because almost every aspect of the blockchain system is based on evidence from thoroughly peer-reviewed research papers (112 publications to date).
IOHK (abbreviation for Input Output Hong Kong) is the blockchain engineering and research company responsible for developing Cardano (the company is based in Hong Kong, hence the name). The research team consists of 27 well-regarded scientists and Ph.D. fellows from different areas of the world, such as IOHK’s partner universities in Edinburg, Tokyo, and Athens. The team uses the scientific method as learned in academia to research, develop, and optimize Cardano.
One of the major innovations that the IOHK team has come up with, is Cardano’s proof-of-stake consensus protocol (PoS), Ouroboros (see the research paper here). PoS is much less energy-consuming compared to proof of work which Bitcoin and Ethereum (currently) rely on. Ouroboros is the first PoS mechanism that is provably secure from attackers. It has helped to make Cardano the biggest PoS-based blockchain by market cap in 2021.
Projects in Africa
As the Ethiopian Minister of Education says in an interview with IOHK: “we live in the fourth industrialization, and if you are not are part of the digitalization, then you are left aside. “ 
For many years Africa as a continent has been left aside in the global technology race. In modern times, however, high-tech companies are casting sidelong glances to Africa as a new territory for experimentation with AI, blockchain, IoT, and climate technologies.
Among other collaborations, Cardano is working with the global AI marketplace, SingularityNET, and the AI development company, iCog Labs, in Africa. They collaborate to leverage high-end blockchain and AI technology, currently focusing their work in Ethiopia. Co-founder of SingularityNET and ICog Labs, Ben Goertzel, explains in an interview:
“There are astounding opportunities for technological leapfrogging in Africa, and for fulfilling needs in Africa by building advanced systems using technologies like AI and blockchain that are not rolled out that widely in the developed world. By filling Africa’s needs using advanced technologies developed by African technologists and scientists in conjunction with SingularityNet, we can somehow see Africa advance faster, and in some ways may even take the lead over the developed world.”
Cardano’s largest project in Africa is also the most comprehensive blockchain deal made in history. The deal concerns IOHK’s partnership with the Ethiopian government for a national identity system built on Cardano’s blockchain. The system, Atala Prism, will be used to create “tamper-proof records” of educational performance across 3,500 schools and five million secondary grade students to instantly verify grades.
To have a national identity card issued by the government is a privilege that most of us in the Western civilization has scarcely bestowed a thought. As Cardano’s founder and CEO of IOHK, Charles Hoskinson, explains:
“The reality is that the world still lives in two different configurations: one for the developed world, and one for the developing. In the developed world there are many things that we take for granted. The fact that it is easy for us to have an identity, passport, driver’s license. It’s easy for us to travel, easy for us to prove our credit worthiness, and get credentials. It’s easy for us to borrow money, get insurance, and process payments (..) we take this for granted, and it’s a part of our daily life’s just like breathing or drinking water.”
If you live in the developing world, it’s a different story. To globalize, prove claims, send, receive, or borrow money is very hard, if not impossible, without a provable economic identity. That is what Atala Prism delivers to the young students.
The mission is to give the five million students in Ethiopia a “decentralized digital identity”. The digital identity carries with it metadata on their credentials and educational records that will travel with them throughout their academic life and further in their venture into the economic world. Later in life, the proof of identity will help the student to prove their skills to employers and to procure jobs.
Atala Prism’s decentralized nature also enables the students to take ownership of their data. This means that governmental entities are not able to extract their personal information from a centralized database. Instead, the students are in control, and can freely share their credentials with whomever they like. Eventually, the same infrastructure that Atala Prism delivers could be used for property, payment, voting, and all other matters of their economic life.
Speaking of taking things for granted, almost half of the world’s population does not have access to the internet. In this day and age, the internet is such an integral part of our lives, that living without a stable internet connection or a digital identity, would seem unimaginable to most of us.
The so-called digital divide between the developed countries and developing countries, prevent citizens from many regions of the world to partake in the digital economy. This means that large populations are excluded from banking, health services, education, news, and connection with distant family and friends.
The reason behind the digital divide is simple to understand. The telecom industry is not willing to invest or spend resources on broadening their networks to remote areas, as it is not profitable for them. Besides, it is expensive to maintain the infrastructure in many of these remote areas due to the terrain. That is where the blockchain solution, World Mobile, comes in.
World Mobile is not governed by a centralized management structure as telecom companies are, but is a decentralized network based on “the sharing economy”. The mobile network is maintained by different kinds of nodes that are encouraged to participate by earning World Mobile Tokens (WMT) on Cardano’s blockchain. The infrastructure is not owned by World Mobile, but by the node operators. They receive instructions and other maintenance material in local languages, while ambassadors travel to remote towns and villages to help communities in need.
According to World Mobile’s roadmap, the goal is to have 100.000 target users in Zanzibar and Tanzania by the end of 2021. In a few years, World Mobile aims to provide sustainable and low-cost internet across Africa and beyond, and give ten millions of users a new digital identity.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f6h_K9JR5Y&t=284s (21-07-2021).