The Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference 2017 – organised by the Cryptographic Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN) – was held on the 23rd and 24th of November in Lagos. The conference brought together blockchain entrepreneurs, policymakers, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts to discuss how blockchain technology and decentralised digital currencies can be leveraged to boost the economy in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
The Deputy Governor for Economy Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Joseph Nnanna, gave the opening speech. He stated that the theme ‘National Development in the Era of Distributed Technology & Digital Currency’ offers a unique opportunity to reflect on the impact of financial technologies and digital currencies on financial system stability and economic development.
He also expressed confidence in how the distributed ledger technology can help Nigeria improve payments, system efficiency, and help eliminate incidences such as counterfeit currencies.
Nnanna, however, also stressed the need for an appropriate regulatory framework as the government is mindful of the potential challenges such technology could pose.
“Distributed ledger and digital currencies can lead to boom-bust in the domestic assets market. Cyber crimes and other security breaches in payment system platform can be amplified if we’re ill-prepared in developing an appropriate framework for seamless utilisation of the technology,” he said.
Also speaking at the event was the CBN Director for Banking and Payments, Dr. Dipo Fatokun who stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria is excited about the opportunities and prospects that comes with blockchain technology, especially for financial inclusion.
“The CBN is currently holding broad industry consultations on distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency use cases and regulation, innovators forums hold regularly and it is planning to implement a Regulatory Sandbox regime,” Fatokun said.
Another Speaker from the CBN was the Chief Information Security Officer Dr. Rakiya Mohammed who is part of the committee set aside by the central bank for distributed Ledger technology (DLT) and digital currencies. She also reiterated that the CBN recognises what is happening and stated that announcements will be made early next year in regards to digital currency regulation.
“We’re about to receive an approval of the framework for regulating the top players in the bitcoin ecosystem in Nigeria,” she stated.
The two-day event attracted over two hundred attendees from different backgrounds which included experts from Microsoft, Stellar, and blockchain startups.
One of the interesting topics discussed was the high growing interest the Nigeria’s bitcoin ecosystem is witnessing. According to the research carried out by Lucky Uwakwe, co-founder of Blockchain Solutions Limited, Nigerian trade around 10 billion nairas worth of cryptocurrency each month.
Paxful CTO, Artur Schaback, stated that 35% of their traffic comes from Nigeria which amounts to one-third of the Paxful’s peer-to-peer exchange community.
Furthermore, Earnest Mbenkum, founder of Fintech Ltd based in Cameroon, expressed optimism saying that 2018 will be the year that Africa puts itself on the map in terms of blockchain technology and innovation, which will offer African economies a golden opportunity to catch up with top economies.
“The difference between then and now is that this is the first time that a revolutionary technology and invention is no longer limited to Western countries. Blockchain technology is available to anyone all over the world at the same time including the African continent,” he stated.
The conference was brought to an end by closing remarks of the founder of CDIN, Fadele Adeolu, who said that he is astonished at how fast the blockchain ecosystem has grown in Nigeria to become what it is today.
“I must confess that the activities in this space today are far beyond my imagination. As a cryptographer, I could not imagine that terms like public and private keys could become a discussion of the general public in 2017. The reason being that even IT professionals don’t usually find those terms friendly. Believe me or not, crypto trading and investment did the magic.”
The Nigeria Blockchain Alliance conference showed that Nigerian policymakers are open to new innovation from the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, which, of course, bodes well for the local crypto community and its startup scene.
The Deputy Governor, Economic policy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Okwu Nnanna has expressed confidence in the ability of financial technologies and digital currencies to impact positively on financial system stability and general economic development.
This was contained in his opening remarks at the Cryptography Development Initiative in Nigeria (NDIN) during their Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA) conference held in Lagos recently. The theme of the conference was: ‘National Development in the Era of Distributed Ledger Technology and Digital Currency.’
Nnanna stated that the theme of the conference offers a unique opportunity to reflect once again on the impact of financial technologies and digital currency on financial system stability and economic development
The CBN Deputy Governor, represented by Dr. Emmanuel Adamgbe argued that “financial innovations add to a country’s financial sector competitiveness and sophistication, while facilitating greater productive investment.”
He, therefore expressed optimism that financial innovations can help Nigeria improve payment system efficiency, eliminate incidences such as counterfeit currencies in transactions, build virtual financial communities across continents, foster greater trade and exchange as well as provide a diversified portfolio of investment for individuals, households and firms.
He however, harped on the need to develop an appropriate framework to regulate the system considering the potential threats that go with it. “We should be mindful of the challenges posed by distributed ledger technology and digital currencies which can lead to boom-bust in the domestic asset markets,” he concluded.
Also speaking at the event, Chief Information Security Officer, CBN, Dr. Rakiya Mohammed, who was guest speaker at the conference, said government was not averse to innovations but had certain concerns which include consumer right, tax evasion, and money laundering, among others.
She said that the CBN was studying the phenomenon and would soon make formal pronouncements and probably come up with necessary framework to regulate blockchain technology and digital currency in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Crypto experts who spoke at the conference said bitcoin and other digital currencies have already become global phenomena. They shared their experiences and explained how the system works.
Ray Youssef from the USA and CEO of PAXFUL, a global marketplace for bitcoin that operates in the US and Africa and powered by people and blockchain said they provide support for bitcoin users and educate new entrants on the opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals.
Represented by PAXFUL Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Artur Schaback, Youssef noted that Nigerians were already taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the bitcoin technology to better their lives.
“35 percent traffic on PAXFUL is from Nigeria. Africa is our biggest market with our highest numbers coming from Nigeria and Ethiopia. We are proud to say that one-third of PAXFUL community are from Nigeria which is our number one country by volume; which is why we would be opening our technology space here soon,” he said.
He revealed that PAXFUL had been successful over the years because it built a safe and secure platform for trade. “If you are a buyer you are 100 percent protected. We verify and check all our sellers for safety, you can pay with confidence with 2-factor authentication, escrow, highest level encryption and professional audited security,” he stated.
As part of efforts to help people from different walks of life transact online without limitations and make money, Paxful unveiled Blockchain and Cryptotalk at Pelican Hotel and ResortLekki, Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Paxful CEO, Ray Youssef, said: “Paxful is a global marketplace for bitcoin. We solve a problem for vast amount of people that cannot transact online due to restrictions in place by their local government on foreign currencies and lack of access to cryptocurrencies for over 300 methods. Our aim is to educate Nigerians on how to start their businesses and how bitcoin can help solve financial problems. Paxful bitcoin is a flexible tool to help you store money.” Continue reading
Blockchain activities in Nigeria have already put the country on a concrete technical foundation. Many experts, therefore, predict that Africa stands to profit more than any nation on the planet from this up-and-coming technology.
It has become evident in the vast directness and balanced approach of Nigerian government towards understanding the intricacies of the ecosystem. The Nigerian government does its best to map out an unbiased equipped environment where the most benefit can be achieved from the Blockchain technology.
The Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN) is the most significant stakeholder within Blockchain industry that has been working extensively with the Nigerian government. Since 2015, through the Nigerian Blockchain Alliance (NBA), one of its primary organs, CDIN has already been involved in the fight against numerous crypto scams in Nigeria.
The President of CDIN, Adeolu Fadele, in his numerous interviews keeps on saying that the primary purpose of this group is to help Nigerians force the opportunities presented by both digital currency and blockchain. For example, many bitcoin baccarat casinos have already used this perfect opportunity. Eventually, it will move the nation for general development and growth while shielding them from numerous risks.
Fadele also told that CDIN has already played the role of a “precursor organization.” They created consciousness amongst the appropriate government agencies on the call for understanding and responding to the troublesome nature of the global digital revolution without stifling innovation.
“We are very proud to say that the welcoming regulatory environment enjoyed by the Nigerian Blockchain and digital currency ecosystem could be partly attributed to our early engagements with law enforcement agents and the policymakers. We have worked in collaboration with the commercial banks, the Nigerian Police Force, and the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum to fight cryptocurrency scammers,” NAIJ Nigeria cites Fadele.
The group will also organize the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference to team up all private establishments, national institutions, businesses, professionals, the general public, and global partners. The conference will undoubtedly discourage crime, create awareness, defend consumers and release new job and business opportunities in the most populated country in Africa.
Tech Hub Company is another group that has been working together with the Nigerian government in boosting Blockchain development in Nigeria.
The Founder of Tech Hub, Samuel Benedict, told that his company’s principal objective is to give Blockchain-driven solutions to Nigeria.
In particular, Benedict tells the following: “Our key mission is to bring pragmatic Blockchain solutions to the access of Africans. So far, every day we receive plenty of positive feedback from the Nigerian government. Presently, we have a couple of meetings with the ministry of communication and technology. Moreover, we keep on negotiating with First Bank of Nigeria Plc to present an ATM card system. It will be undoubtedly linked to wallets for users to have straight fiat currency withdrawals.”
According to Samuel Benedict, the Blockchain industry is up-and-coming in Nigeria. Several talented startups have already started to build services on Blockchain. “The larger Nigerian population requires more Blockchain education beyond just cryptocurrency and to learn how to stay away from possible scams,” concluded the Founder of Tech Hub.
The Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA), a platform under the umbrella of the cryptography development initiative of Nigeria (CDIN), will be hosting the first edition of its long-awaited blockchain conference. The Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference will be held at the Muson Center in Lagos on the 23rd and 24th of November 2017.
Nigeria’s blockchain community has experienced tremendous growth in the past 12 to 24 months. Several new startups have launched and the CDIN initiative has been making substantial strides towards building a better, more informed cryptocurrency community in Nigeria.
The CDIN initiative has done a lot in educating the masses about blockchain technology and its benefits. Furthermore, to support the government’s fight against electronic fraud, the CDIN launched the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance, a platform which brings together relevant bodies, and government agencies to collaborate in the fight against crypto-related crimes.
In an interview with BitcoinAfrica.io, CDIN founder Adeolu Fadele highlighted some of the key themes of the upcoming blockchain conference in Nigeria.
“The truth is that the entire programme of cryptography development initiative in Nigeria (CDIN), including the NBA conference, is targeted towards making sure that Nigeria(ns) do not miss the opportunities presented by the crypto-enabled innovations. That is why even the theme, brand and the agenda are also designed to reflect that focus – National Development in the Era of Distributed Ledger Technology & Digital Currency.
While we have our focus on national development, we have equally incorporated global partners into the agenda of the conference to give the participants a balanced event. The conference will feature speakers from Technology giants like Microsoft and IBM, startups and government agencies in Nigeria.”
According to Fadele, the conference will have six main focus points.
1. Update on regulatory direction for blockchain/digital currency in Nigeria
2. Expert/stakeholders’ opinion on having a “Nigerian blockchain and national digital currency”
3. Meeting the blockchain startups in Nigeria during an innovation session
4. Exhibition and distribution of free digital currencies
5. Learning the art of crypto-investments
6. Getting down the rabbit hole (Technical Session)
“As reflected in the six points agenda of the conference, a whole session has been dedicated to investment discussion and enthusiasts will have opportunities to learn from the experts.
[…] the conference is about bringing Nigerians together to work out how best to help our country leverage opportunities presented by digital innovations to produce overall growth and development while minimizing the risks,” he added.
For more information about the conference, registration, and purchasing of tickets please visit The Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference
Blockchain activities in Nigeria is beginning to put the nation on a solid technical foundation. This is causing some to suggest that Africa stands to benefit more than any place in the world from the emerging technology.
The signs of a welcoming community are evident in the openness and unbiased approach of the nation’s government so far towards understanding the intricacies of the ecosystem. The Nigerian government is trying to map out a balanced operational environment where the most benefit can be achieved from the emerging technology.
Awareness and protection
One of the major stakeholders within the industry that has worked extensively with the Nigerian government is the Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN). Through one of its organs, the Nigerian Blockchain Alliance (NBA), CDIN has been involved in the fight against crypto scams in Nigeria since 2015.
According to Adeolu Fadele, President of CDIN, the major objective of his group is to help Nigerians leverage the opportunities presented by Blockchain and digital currency. Ultimately, this will reposition the nation for overall growth and development while protecting them from risks.
Fadele notes that as a trailblazer in the Nigerian Blockchain and digital currency ecosystem, CDIN has played the role of a “forerunner organization.” They have created awareness among the relevant government agencies on the need to understand and respond to the disruptive nature of the global digital revolution without stifling innovation. Fadele elaborates:
“Today, we are proud to say that the friendly regulatory environment enjoyed by the Nigerian Blockchain and digital currency ecosystem could be partly attributed to our early engagements with the policy makers and law enforcements agents. We have worked in collaboration with the commercial banks, Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) and the Nigerian Police Force to fight cryptocurrency SCAM. Significant success was recorded in discouraging the growing criminal activities in the Nigerian Blockchain and Digital currency ecosystem and funds were successfully recovered for victims in many cases.”
He continues by explaining that these proactive efforts have discouraged criminals from taking advantage of the regulatory gap to give Nigeria a bad name.
To further these efforts, the group is organizing the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference, bringing together national institutions, private establishments, professionals, businesses, global partners and the general public. The conference is intended to create awareness, discourage crime, protect consumers and unlock new job and business opportunities in Nigeria.
Education and tech development
Another group that has collaborated with the Nigerian government in enhancing Blockchain development is the company Tech Hub.
Samuel Benedict, Founder of Tech Hub, tells Cointelegraph that his company’s objective is to provide Blockchain-driven solutions Nigeria and Africa at large. Benedict says:
“Our mission is to bring pragmatic Blockchain solutions to the doorstep of Africans, So far we are [receiving] a lot of positive feedback from the government and currently we are having series of meetings with the ministry of communication and technology. We are also in negotiation with First Bank of Nigeria Plc in order to provide an [ATM] card system that will be linked to wallets for users to have direct fiat currency withdrawals.”
Benedict also notes that the Blockchain industry shows great promise in Nigeria and several startups are building services on Blockchain already. According to him, the larger Nigerian population needs more Blockchain education beyond just cryptocurrency and to learn how to stay away from possible scams.
Without a doubt, the rise of bitcoin and its underlying technology blockchain represent a historical technological disruption. While the technology has already found success in economically developed countries, bitcoin is just starting to gain momentum here in Africa. Over the past 2-3 years, we’ve seen growing interest in bitcoin and the technology behind its increase in African countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and in Nigeria.
In this article you will be introduced to the state of bitcoin in Nigeria, the people’s perception of this new technology and how it is being used.
NIGERIA’S BITCOIN ECOSYSTEM
The bitcoin ecosystem in Nigeria has been experiencing tremendous growth over the past two years. This is evidenced by the growing number of bitcoin related queries on Google Trends charts as well as increasing bitcoin trading volumes in the West African nation.
Nigeria is already witnessing the birth of new startups, initiatives, local meet-ups and social groups with the aim of educating interested parties about the fundamentals of bitcoin and blockchain technology as well as promoting its benefits. Some of this startups and initiatives include CDIN, PEX Bank, Cryptogene, Cryptomart, NGExchanger, and Nairaex. Additionally, top bitcoin companies such as Luno and ICE3X are already exploring the Nigeria market.
CRYPTOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE NIGERIA (CDIN)
The Cryptographic Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN) is one of the blockchain focused groups that has successfully positioned itself as a pacesetter in this new industry.
The CDIN is a non-governmental organisation and platform that encourages the learning and practice of cryptography amongst relevant stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. It is subdivided into three groups: Crypto Nigeria, Blockchain Nigeria, and Nigeria Blockchain Alliance (NBA).
The CDIN has been able to deliver on some of its promises from educating the masses on the cryptocurrency. Through its Crypto-Nigeria arm, local meet ups have been arranged in order to tackle criminal activities by collaborating with government agencies and relevant bodies in fighting against crypto-related crimes, such as HYIP and Ponzi schemes that use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for payment.
Recently, the CDIN announced that the Nigeria government is willing to offer its support to the initiative. The organisation has announced a partnership with the National Electronic Fraud Forum (NEFF) for the Blockchain Nigeria 2017 conference. NEFF’s chairman, who’s also the director of banking and payment system of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dipo Fatokun said:
“Please be informed that NEFF is willing to collaborate with CDIN and will assist with technical advice and/or speakers at the […] 2017 conference on Blockchain. Also note that as the collaboration progresses, Neff will also, count on your support.”
THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA’S STANCE ON BITCOIN
The Central Bank of Nigeria seems to understand the potential that comes from bitcoin and blockchain technology. However, the CBN is concerned about the financial losses that traditional banks will incur as well the growth of bitcoin-related crimes, such as ransomware and pyramid schemes if the technology becomes widely accepted.
FACTORS SLOWING DOWN THE ADOPTION OF DIGITAL CURRENCY
The CBN issued a circular to banks, similar to a statement released by the Nigeria Securities and Exchange Commission to the public, on January 12, 2017. Both regulatory bodies warned against the usage of digital currencies like bitcoin as it is not a legal tender in the country and any bank or business that would deal or invest in such would do so at their own risk.
Furthermore, in a March 2017 meeting focused on digital currencies organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Nigeria, the CBN through its Deputy Director for Banking and Payment Musa Itopa Jimoh reiterated the central bank’s view of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
“The Central bank cannot control or regulate blockchain. Just the same way no one is going to control or regulate the Internet. We don’t own it.”
Mr. Itopa Jimoh further clarifies the CBN’s previous warning that he believed was misunderstood by the public.
“A lot of people misinterpreted it that we wanted to stop bitcoin. We can’t stop bitcoin. Bitcoin is not an invention of 2015 or 2012; it’s not even an invention of 2010. So, how can the Central Bank of Nigeria, not central bank of the world, stop the running and implementation of bitcoin?”
In spite the warnings from the government, the growing interest in bitcoin has refused to slow down. A key reason behind it is the persistent depreciation of the country’s local currency, the naira. Many people are beginning to see bitcoin as a good alternative to hedge their wealth against currency losses.
The remittance market is another major area driving the usage of digital currency. As a cost-effective and borderless payment network, bitcoin and other digital currencies are offering a long-term solution to Nigeria’s large remittance markets’ challenges.
NIGERIA’S BITCOIN STARTUPS
Nigeria is also the home to several bitcoin startups with the largest being the country’s leading bitcoin exchange NairaEx.
NairaEx offers a quick and easy way of for Nigerians to purchase the digital currency using credit cards, debit cards, or bank deposits using local currency. There is also BTC.ng, which is a NairaEx run bitcoin publication that aims to close the big gap by educating newbies in Nigeria on everything happening in the bitcoin ecosystem.
Cryptogene is another Nigerian startup, which launched in late 2016 to focus on educating African on the benefits of bitcoin and blockchain technology.
Cryptomart and NGExchanger are two further startups in Nigeria’s bitcoin community while leading African bitcoin exchanges Luno and ICE3X are also exploring the Nigerian market. ICE3X, for example, enables Nigerians to buy bitcoin, litecoin, and ether with the naira.
HOW NIGERIANS ARE USING BITCOIN
A recent study conducted by leading bitcoin wallet provider Luno reveals a great deal of faith in the future of the digital currency in Nigeria.
57 percent of the respondents believe bitcoin to be the future of money. When asked to state their main reason for buying bitcoin, 28.8 percent used it for investing while 20.3 percent used it for remittance purposes while others used it for trading and speculation purposes. Interestingly, a majority of Nigerians, 45.3 percent, would rather own bitcoin than gold. This is a large number in comparison to the 10.3 percent figure for gold ownership.
The wave of digital revolution that is changing the way transactions are perceived, conducted and recorded globally has not left out Nigeria and Africa.
Government agencies, professionals, businesses and the general public in Nigeria has responded to this global phenomenon in diverse ways within a short period
It is therefore time to discuss the subject of National Development in the Era of Distributed Ledger and Cryptocurrency in Nigeria
As a trailblazer in the Nigerian Blockchain and Digital Currency ecosystem and a forerunner organization creating awareness and driving the fight against crypto SCAM in Nigeria since 2015, it is with great pleasure that we announce the first edition of the Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference to be held at Muson Centre in Lagos, Nigeria from 23 to 24 November 2017.
The NBA Conference is organized by the Cryptography Development Initiative in Nigeria (CDIN) in collaboration with stakeholders in the Nigerian Blockchain and Digital Currency ecosystem.
The overall theme of the Conference is “National Development in the Era of Distributed Ledger Technology & Digital Currency”. The NBA Conference will bring together relevant National Institutions, Private Establishments, Professionals, interested members of the public and global partners to discuss the subject of National Development in the era of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency with the aim to create awareness, discourage crime, protect consumers, and unlock new job and business opportunities in Nigeria and Africa.
In order to achieve the above objective, special arrangement has been made to give Strategic Stakeholders exclusive opportunities during the conference to share their concerns, findings and interest on the issue of Distributed Ledger Technology and Digital Currency.
The Conference Agenda has been structured into substantive sessions and discussion groups, providing Stakeholders the opportunity to focus on specific areas from their own perspective and national concerns to enable them derive more value from the event.
In addition, the information, statistics and conclusions arrived at during the conference will also be channeled into a knowledge database which NBA will continue to build and maintain for reference and use of the stakeholders even after the event
Thank you for being part of our history.
CDIN: Promoting Growth in Nigeria Through Cryptographic Assurance
Report coming from the attendees of the special event of august, starting with the president of Cryptographic Development Initiative in Nigeria in person of Mr Adeolu Fadele by saying “I want to appreciate everyone for making today”s meetup a success. I understand the audio was poor for the online participants, it will be better managed the next time, However, we also realised there are still huge opportunities for all to key into the project. We all dispersed today in high spirit hoping to come to next meetup with suggestion and idea that can make the project a better success. Thank you all for being part of our history.”
Blockchain awareness in Africa is on the rise as governments and stakeholders are collaborating to enhance proper understanding and education on the fundamentals and implementation of the technology.
A convention of stakeholders
On Aug. 4, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) published a notice inviting stakeholders to a meeting where they will discuss “Virtual currencies as a medium of exchange in Nigeria.”
The notice reads:
“The Central Bank of Nigeria has commissioned a study on ‘Virtual Currency as an Emerging Medium of Exchange.’ To achieve the objectives of the study, there is need for stakeholders meeting to brainstorm and exchange ideas with a view to gathering relevant information on the nature, scope and dynamics of virtual currency operations in Nigeria. This would provide input into the report of the committee.”
The meeting is slated to be held on Aug. 10 at the CBN Headquarters Auditorium in the nation’s capital.
The invitation specifically requests the participation of industry leaders in areas of virtual currency operations such as exchanges, wallet providers, miners, software developers and individual investors.
Nigeria’s first Blockchain conference
Incidentally, this event comes up just days before the first Blockchain conference in Nigeria which is hosted by Blockchain Nigeria User Group and Blockchain Education Network (Nigeria).
According to the Coordinator of Blockchain Nigeria User Group, Chimezie Chuta:
“The Conference will bring together enthusiasts, practitioners, entrepreneurs, startups and software developers playing in the Blockchain and Virtual Currency community, under one roof.”
Chuta says that the purpose of the conference is to spur a wave of startups in the Blockchain and Digital Currency ecosystem in Nigeria and also enable organizations that are interested in leveraging digital currency revolution as an alternative in an economy struggling to get out of recession.
A nation awoken
Nigeria appears eager to embrace Blockchain technology in order to spur its own technological and economic development. The conference will feature experts such as:
- Dickson Nsofor, VP Business Development at Humaniq UK
- Oladapo Ajayi, founder SuperDAO USA
- Miklos Denker, VP Corion Foundation
- Ida Froyda, volunteer at Corion Foundation Switzerland
The Central Bank Nigeria’s (CBN) Committee on “The Study of Virtual Currency as an Emerging Medium of Exchange” will participate as panelists and observers.