Mara partners NITDA to train government workers on blockchain technology amidst layoff controversy

The firm has conducted two rounds of layoffs within a span of six months, sparking concerns.

Mara partners NITDA to train government workers on blockchain technology amidst layoff controversy
Credit: Mara | Design by Ifeoluwa Awowoye

Mara, a blockchain firm, announced its partnership with the National Information and Technology Agency (NITDA) to launch an initiative to train 500,000 government employees in Nigeria on blockchain technology. 

Key details 

  • Mara is driving this initiative through its foundation, Mara Foundation. In addition to NITDA, the firm also partnered with Circle, the creator of USDC and Euro Coin.  
  • Per the company’s statement, the objective of the collaboration is to equip Nigeria's workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to drive innovation, foster economic growth, and energize the workforce in the digital age. 
  • The first training session, which was held in Abuja on June 1, 2023, focused on the role of blockchain technology in building Nigeria’s digital economy.
  • Topics covered during the training included “The Role of the Blockchain Industry in Strengthening Nigeria's Digital Economy” and “Policymaking and Regulations for the Blockchain Industry.” 
  • In a statement to Mariblock, Mara highlighted some topics to be covered in the curriculum. They include: introduction to blockchain technology, components, types and benefits of blockchain, role of policies in promoting and regulating blockchain, and best practices for developing blockchain policies in the public sector.

Key quote  

Aishatu Yahaya Umar, Deputy Manager of the Software Unit at NITDA said:  

“Mara, as one of the blockchain stakeholders in Nigeria, through this initiative has proven to be a great supporter of driving the Nigeria digital economy agenda and we at NITDA are excited to be partners and beneficiaries of their laudable initiatives. We are convinced that by collaborating with government and other stakeholders within the space, the full adoption of blockchain technology in Nigeria is not far-fetched.” 

Mara’s co-founder and CEO, Chi Nnadi said:  

“Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize various sectors in Africa and by equipping government workers with this transformative technology, we are laying the foundation for a more effective and inclusive government system, better regulations, and improved economy.” 

Blurry lines  

  • Considering the digital nature of the training, it is pertinent to inquire about how Mara wishes to address the accessibility of laptops and reliable internet access for average Nigerian government employees.
  • It is worth noting that the Domineum blockchain scholarship program, in collaboration with NITDA, had previously required participants to possess a laptop and have good internet access as part of the prerequisites. 
  • Mara did not respond to requests for comments regarding this.

Of note  

  • Mara, following the departure of co-founder Kate Kallot and the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, has reportedly conducted two rounds of layoffs within a span of six months, as revealed by a recent Techcabal report. 
  • After the first round of layoffs in December, Mara slashed salaries the next month. In May this year, the company had another round of layoffs, sparking concerns.  
  • However, the company maintains that the layoffs are not because of the crash, but that it restructured the team with a renewed focus on existing users, launching other projects that will drive crypto adoption in Africa. 

Background  

  • Last month, the Nigerian Federal Executive Council announced the approval of a national blockchain policy, over two years after the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) published the “National Blockchain Adoption Strategy” document in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. 
  • The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, instructed regulators to work with NITDA to develop regulatory tools for all sectors. 

 Editor's note: This article has been edited to include Mara’s comment on the topics to be covered in the curriculum.