PO8, an award-winning Bahamian tech company in the marine archaeology space is the latest blockchain entrant to the African continent, looking to scale its operations in underwater artefact recovery powered by distributed ledger technology. Strategically poised to usher in a new area of marine exploration, artificial intelligence, robotics and blockchain, PO8 is betting big on Africa and its underwater cultural heritage assets to drive sustained and inclusive economic growth to the region.
Using blockchain technology and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), PO8 monetizes and reshapes the ownership of billions of dollars in sunken treasures and artifacts, converting ownership rights of recovered artifacts with economic value into a smart contract digital title, while keeping recovered items in the custody of the PO8 Museum Foundation to be preserved, studied and exhibited worldwide. With a stored value derived from its underlying asset, NFTs can be sold to anyone around the world.
Led by Bahamian tech visionary and CEO Matthew Arnett, and co-founder and COO Raul Vasquez, PO8 sees African nations also benefiting from the tokenizing of newly recovered underwater artefacts. “NFTs are a new store of value and commodity class,” shared Arnett during a recent television interview on CNBC Africa’s Closing Bell “Africans from across the continent will have a chance to owe a part of this historical venture, for which they will be the beneficial owners of not just new hi-tech jobs and equity in our museums, but also treasures of the mind. PO8 Cape Town will be first then on to Kenya and Namibia. PO8 is a model that will be duplicated across Africa.”
Part of PO8’s historic go-to-market strategy for Africa is partnering up with blockchain early adopters through a Security Token Offering or STO, a first in the African region. In South Africa, PO8 recently announced a strategic partnership with Cryptovecs Capital, a Johannesburg based blockchain fund who will lead a $1 million US dollar investment round for PO8’s STO. Cryptovecs Capital CEO, John Lombela said “Africa is always lagging behind when it comes to adoption and technology, but with the advent of the blockchain, we have seen an increasing interest across the continent and in diverse fields. We have identified a great opportunity to partner with PO8 and engage ourselves in a fundraiser that will give an opportunity to not just qualified investors, entrepreneurs, businessmen but allows everyone interested in alternative investment strategies through blockchain to own a piece of PO8, that’s democratization.”
But the tides are turning as African nations are slowly embracing the blockchain movement for its transparency and decentralization contributions to how we do business in the future. “Africa is no longer the dark continent rather a rising star, stepping up to the moment and making the most of Innovation,” said Yaliwe Soko, Chairwoman of the Blockchain Association of Africa.
In the Bahamas, PO8’s impact will be felt through the delivery of more local jobs ranging from tech to tourism and protecting the marine habitat. This means hiring divers during the fishing off-season, to creating its first Archeological Treasure and Maritime Museum, pumping an additional $1 billion per annum in economic activity. PO8 will restore any excavated area with artificial and lab-grown reefs, resulting in new ecosystems and marine life habit.
“New industries like Blockchain can retool professionals from downtrend industries like banking where just this week in South Africa it was announced over 90 Standard Bank branches will close affecting thousands of bank employees risk of losing their jobs. We welcome the opportunity to join arms with local governments to promote sustainability and capacity building in the tech space. Entire populations stand to benefit,” said Vasquez.
For the past 18 months PO8 has been assembling the Dream Team in marine archaeology and oceanography, with the likes of world-renowned Oceanographer and TITANIC expeditioner, Dr David Gallo; acclaimed Shipwreck researcher and author, Mr. Claudio Bonifacio; Troy Launay, part of the Apollo F-1 engines recovery team funded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon; and Evan Kovacs, an authority in underwater imaging who has produced videos for National Geographic and Discovery Channel.
Recently, PO8 was named a finalist in the SmartDubai Blockchain Challenge from over 700 entries from 79 countries and was also recognized for its blockchain for impact work by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), receiving the 2018 Creative Business Cup Award at Demand Solutions in Santiago, Chile.