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NEARWEEK’s Perspectives: Paul Otieno, Kenya’s First NEAR Certified Developer

NEAR Education is picking up steam thanks to regional hubs like , and , who are helping talented people discover the ecosystem and all its wonders. Paul, a young Kenyan developer, is the first Kenyan to have obtained the NEAR Certified Developer (NCD) certification granted by ; a program that teaches how to create smart contracts on the NEAR blockchain. Paul, however, did not only manage to go through the course, but he also managed to create one of the best projects from his class. NEARWEEK had the pleasure to meet Paul and learn more about the story of his journey into the NEAR ecosystem, and how this journey has shaped Paul’s career and perspectives.

Paul’s Journey Into the NEARverse

Paul is a young developer based in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the African continent. Like many young graduates, Paul was on the lookout for opportunities and it was during his search that he stumbled upon Sankore, the NEAR Guild dedicated to onboarding and training developers in the African continent. At the time, Paul saw an opening for a software developer trainer position advertised by Sankore:

​​“I learned about the NCD program through Sankore. I was interested in a job opportunity they were offering to developers and in which NCD certification was one of the requirements.”

Paul’s motivation to enroll in the program brought him to complete a crash course on Assembly Script, one of the necessary programming languages to start the course and complete the 20 hours of pre-work required to access the next phase of the training. During two weeks Paul delved into the world of blockchain and learned how to develop his own project on the NEAR blockchain.

“I really wanted to take part in the course so I dedicated myself to take a crash course on Assembly Script to participate. Then I got access to the pre-work for the course. It was not easy since I had to figure many things out by myself but instructors were always available for answering questions together with the growing NEAR community”.

Although Paul was new to blockchain technology, through hard work and dedication he managed to pull off an ingenious project and become an active member of the NEAR developer community.

The Birth of an Online Processing Order System

One of Paul’s working spots

One of the main reasons that attracted Paul towards blockchain is the new opportunities that this technology opens up. For a long time, Paul had been looking for ways to bring his idea to improve the e-commerce processes into reality but it was not until he enrolled in NEAR University’s program that he finally found the right tools.

“My project was basically an idea I have been thinking of but didn’t know how to put it down before I came across blockchain. The idea is to improve e-commerce processes to protect buyers, sellers, and delivery people. There are always a lot of issues related to e-commerce, buyers receive damaged or wrong items, they might get lost, etc.. With the system, I implemented every party involved in the transaction can be assured that everything will go as expected without having to trust the other party(s).”

Traditionally in e-commerce, users that are interested in buying a commodity transfer money directly to the seller before their goods are even packaged. The user needs to trust in the seller’s honesty and as well as in the good faith of the person in charge of the delivery. By introducing blockchain into the equation Paul’s project focused on introducing trustlessness in e-commerce thus bringing more safety to all parties involved.

“In the system I implemented the buyer selects the commodity he wants to buy, and when checking out the money that is deducted from his/her account is not immediately transferred to the store’s account, the money is locked outside the account for security purposes. Then, when the delivery guy will go to the store to clear the order for shipment, an amount equivalent to the cost of the commodity(s) will be locked from the delivery guy’s account, so if he disappears with the item(s) we do not have to struggle to find him back; all we can do is to credit the amount that was locked out of the delivery person’s account into the store owner’s account. But if the delivery person is honest enough and she or he delivers those commodities to the buyer, then the transaction happens as follows: Whatever was locked out of the buyer’s account including the shipment fee is credited to the delivery guy’s account while the amount that was locked out of the delivery guy’s account is credited to the store owner’s account. This basically secures the three parties from breach of the contract.”

Paul’s was considered one of the best projects among those presented for its concepts and execution and in the next months, Paul will continue working on it to turn it into a ready-to-use product.

Looking TowardsThe Future

After obtaining the NCD certification, Paul joined the Sankore Academy’s team to help with the sourcing and onboarding of new students to the NEAR ecosystem. According to Paul, the introduction of blockchain technology in the African continent could be a game-changer for regional economies.

“In Kenya, and Africa in general, the technology is here but the developers that know how to use blockchain are quite inadequate. There is therefore a need to train more developers with the capacity to renovate and create new systems using this technology. What makes me passionate about my job is the fact that we are helping lay the foundations for a different future by training and spreading awareness about blockchain. Introducing blockchain in the African context will not only benefit developers but entire communities.”

As Africa has immense resources when it comes to human capital, thanks to its young and tech-savvy population, it is well-positioned to become the world’s new tech hub. Moreover, the introduction of decentralized, open, and permissionless digital infrastructure in the African continent will also open up new opportunities to redefine the concepts of trust, value, access to services, and data management:

“In my country, for instance, people have been complaining about the elections. With blockchain, a system could potentially be crafted to make sure that election results are transparent right from the polling stations without any human interference. Such challenges can be fixed to some extent with blockchain technology. Wherever trust is involved, blockchain assures transparency. Blockchain can as well enable people to be in charge of their data, something very important to prevent the use and/or misuse of people’s data without their consent; and without any direct benefit.”

Paul’s determination to foster blockchain adoption in the African continent is what drove him to further his education with NEAR University to become a :

“I decided to become a NEAR Certified Instructor to onboard more people and help them familiarize themselves with blockchain, and NEAR in particular, as it is one of the best protocols to build on. We really need to look for developers and enthusiasts and show them that there is such a technology, easy to build on. My goal is to have more hubs where people can come together to build and innovate.”

Thanks to NEAR University, talented and motivated people like Paul can start making a difference in their own communities. As the introduction of the NEAR Protocol will foster innovation and prosperity there is a lot to look forward to in the future. NEARWEEK will continue to cover these stories with the NEAR community to raise awareness about the concrete ways in which NEAR helps change lives.

Paul Otieno

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About NEAR Education

NEAR Education is the entry point for developers and curious minds into the NEAR ecosystem and community. By focusing on creating educational opportunities and providing assistance to regional hubs, NEAR Education helps foster the growth of Web3 and the adoption of NEAR Protocol.


About NEAR Protocol

NEAR is eliminating the barriers to Web3 adoption. With high speeds, low fees, and progressive UX, NEAR’s climate-neutral blockchain is ready for explosive growth. NEAR runs in concert with Ethereum, Polkadot, Cosmos, and more, allowing for the free flow of assets and communication between networks for the betterment of all.

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NEARWEEK is aggregating and curating information across the NEAR ecosystem. We deliver content about DeFi, Gaming, Updates, NFTs, Community, Development related to NEARProtocol. Articles submitted by community authors.

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La Devochka

Crypto scavenger and cypherpunk ally, writing on privacy, crypto projects, philosophy of technology and more.