USE CASE | A Look at Akowe, a Nigerian EdTech Startup Revolutionizing Academic Certificate Issuance Using Blockchain

Akowe is leveraging the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (Amazon QLDB), a fully managed ledger database that provides a transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable transaction log.

Akowe, a blockchain startup located in Lagos, Nigeria, is one of only 2 blockchains startup participants from Africa in the TechCrunch Disrupt’s 2023 Startup Battlefield 200.

Akowe has created a blockchain-based platform designed for the issuance of verifiable academic records with the aim of enhancing the transparency and security of academic credentials.

In a recent interview, Akowe Founder, Ayodeji Agboola, pointed out that there is a significant demand for digital certificate verification systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to him, this demand is driven, in part, by the challenges associated with re-issuing academic records and the possessiveness of universities over these records.

Akowe’s blockchain-based platform addresses these issues by providing a secure and accessible solution for verifying academic credentials.

Previously, in 2018, Agboola initiated a training program for a group of small business owners to teach them how to use Facebook effectively. By 2019, this program had successfully trained 30,000 individuals, and there arose a need to provide verifiable proof of completion for the course participants. This need led to the development of Akowe’s blockchain-based platform for issuing and verifying academic records.


“We couldn’t find a very simple tool to use, so I just decided, you know what? Let’s build this thing,” he said. “So this was late 2020. We built it out in three weeks. We demoed it. We tested it for our own certificates. It worked fine. I said, yeah, we’re in business.”

“In Nigeria, in Africa, [blockchain] needs to be a utility that people can actually see and use and solve their problems,” Agboola added.


According to Agboola, the blockchain’s key role in the Akowe platform is in storage. Organizations begin by uploading their certificate templates and a list of recipients’ names. Akowe then automatically generates digital copies of the academic records for each individual and these records are securely stored on the blockchain.

This process ensures the integrity and accessibility of the academic records making them tamper-proof and easily verifiable. If a recruiter or a visa officer needs to verify an individual’s college certificate, they can access and review all the relevant metadata on the blockchain utilized by Akowe.

The metadata typically includes information such as:

  • The URL of the certificate’s hosting location (often a school’s website)
  • University names
  • Student names
  • Courses
  • Grades, and
  • The year of graduation

The blockchain serves as a secure and immutable source for verifying the authenticity of academic records ensuring transparency and trust in the verification process.

Akowe has been using Hyperledger, a permissioned blockchain for its system but is now said to be turning to QLDB, a new ledger database solution released by Amazon.


“The immutable ledger gives it the security, the tamper-proof nature, and all of that you actually need so that you can then be very sure to verify anyone who wants to verify the credentials,” the founder explained.


Akowe provides its platform to universities free of charge, but it earns revenue by taking a percentage of the fees that universities charge users for using its academic record verification services.

The startup is currently in the final stages of setting up pilot programs with two institutions, and is actively engaged in discussions with 15 other universities, indicating a growing interest in its blockchain-based verification solution within the education sector.


One of the biggest challenges Akowe has faced is around the perceptions with blockchain.

“In the beginning, we were always very open to say, hey, blockchain, blockchain. But we then found that [the universities] had a negative connotation or understanding of the concept because they had seen what happened with crypto, and as long as they are concerned, they are all one and the same. So we stopped putting blockchain ahead in the conversation,” said Agboola.

“But when the conversation arises around safety, data, security, data, and privacy, then we say, this is what we’re doing. And it’s very different from crypto and all of that. And then that conversation is a lot better to have.”




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