While Africa accounts for over 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, there are concerns that the continent has not been able to fully leverage its natural resource wealth potential. “It has become important for us to start extracting and effectively harnessing these resources to build our economies,” said Mamadou Toure, CEO of Ubuntu Tribe, the company building GIFT, a digital token 100% backed by gold.

GIFT, which is the acronym for Gold International Fungible Token, is a digital certificate of gold ownership that is 100% backed by physical gold and pegged to the international spot price of gold. For as low as five cents, GIFT allows anyone in Nigeria, Africa, and around the world to buy gold audited by reputable digital asset firms and verified by blockchain technology.

The gold token can be easily accessed with a mobile phone on the Utribe Wallet, the trusted, robust investment platform, available in all digital stores. Meanwhile, the underlying asset which is the gold, is stored in regulated, secure, and independent vaults located in Switzerland, Germany, Dubai, Singapore, and Denmark. Customers are free to claim the physical gold or redeem it in fiat currency at any time from their Utribe wallet. “We work with the leading logistics and security companies like Bris Lois, and FedEx to be able to ship the gold to your doorstep,” said Mamadou.

Key stakeholders at the launch of the GIFT. L-R: Adebola Williams, CEO of Red Media. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli. Mamadou Kwidjim Toure, CEO Ubuntu Tribe. Sonnie Babatunde, CEO DLM Capital Group.

Mamadou’s fascination with Africa’s potential dates back over 20 years ago, a time when Africa was overlooked by many investors. At the time, Mamadou was an investment banker in Paris, working on mergers and acquisitions, and government advisory. His journey as an entrepreneur, however, started when he began working as a managing director for GE General Electric, responsible for investment and project finance for all the subsidiaries of the group for Sub-Saharan Africa. This gave him a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the continent, and a strong network to serve the people today based on his finance background.

In 2016, Mamadou founded Ubuntu Group to use technology for positive change in Africa. The group provides a platform for people to connect, transact, and grow businesses based on real value. In 2019, Mamadou founded Ubuntu Tribe, a subsidiary of the group whose primary goal is to help Africa leverage its natural resources to create shared prosperity. A vision they plan to achieve by offering financial freedom through secure and regulated investment in gold.

The Ubuntu tribe is committed to removing barriers to accessing secure investments by facilitating trade, growth, and shared prosperity through seamless finance and smart trade. However, instead of depending on volatile and depreciating currencies, Ubuntu tribe offers secure and regulated investment products that are pegged to the gold price. The Ubuntu model allows people to use gold as a savings instrument, but also as an investment to be able to trade and preserve against currency depreciation. The goal is to democratize access to gold as a means to shared prosperity.

The wealth behind the gold

Gold is a universal and timeless asset that has gained value over the years. In 1900, a barrel of oil cost 1.8 grams of gold. One century later, the same gram of gold, can get almost three times more oil. In contrast, the same dollar can get 40 times less oil. Since 1971, gold has gained 5000%, and 500% to the dollar, in the last 20 years. Last year, gold gained 15% against the US dollar. Moreover, Africa is home to 40 percent of the world’s gold, with underground resources exceeding $100 trillion, which is bigger than the global GDP at $87 trillion. “The finance industry has always effectively looked at gold as a haven,” commented Sonnie Babatunde, CEO of DLM Capital Group, the security trading partner for the Ubuntu tribe.

DLM Capital is a full-service investment house at the forefront of creating alternative financing solutions across Africa. They are one of the largest broker-dealers in the country, with the necessary license and expertise to operate jointly with the Ubuntu tribe. As a partner, the company is tasked with providing securities trading, ensuring that users can buy and sell your tokens with ease and confidence.

However, despite ranking first in cryptocurrency adoption, many Nigerians (and Africans) remain wary of disruptive technologies, especially blockchain. According to a survey by Statista, 28% of Nigerians who did not use cryptocurrency said they did not trust it. Some of the factors that make Africans skeptical of blockchain technology include its complexity, volatility, security risks, and environmental impact. However, unlike cryptocurrencies, tokenization creates digital tokens of assets on a blockchain, a secure and transparent ledger. These assets can be physical, financial, intangible, or even identity and data. It enables new ways of trading and owning value and allows for crowd-funding. “Blockchain can boost the access to finance and new asset classes that did not exist before,” said Oscar Onyema, Group CEO, of Nigerian Exchange Group, a progressive regulator that endorses disruptive technologies. GIFT is currently accredited by the Singapore Global Metal Exchange and has applied with the SEC to register as a digital exchange. “These bodies have been designed for investor protection. Once you’ve gone through all the regulatory processes, it is safe to be accessible in Nigeria,” he added. 

Fireside chat at the Ubuntu Tribe Luncheon

Ubuntu tribe is unlocking wealth for Africans 

Ubuntu is a beautiful African phrase that means I am because we are. This is the core value of the Ubuntu tribe, who believe that products connect everyone on the planet. Hence, GIFT also allows users to enjoy the benefits of fractionalization. The token breaks down assets into very small pieces that can be accessed and afforded with just a few cents. “This way, it gives a chance not only to join the global economy, to be financially included, but also to create and preserve wealth,” said Mamadou.

Beyond regular users, GIFT offers profit redistribution to mining communities. The business model is based on a circular economy, that allows miners to earn dual income. They refine, store, sell, and benefit wholly from the local economy. 10% of all our transaction fees go back to funds in those mining regions and mining communities, social infrastructure, health and education, and regenerative agriculture for women. “We are the only ones on the planet doing this. With this, the miner can extract the gold, take a portion, and buy it from their phone,” commented Mamoudou. “That’s why it makes a big difference.”

Ubuntu tribe is also committed to environmental and social responsibility. For example, the company has adopted a technology that encourages miners to extract gold with zero mercury and increase the yield by 50%. “The idea is that these miners have better health, a better environment, where they can benefit more from gold,” said Mamadou. The use of blockchain technology also enables users to track the source of the gold at any stage of the supply chain, ensuring transparency and accountability. Subsequently, the Ubuntu tribe aims to partner with the Ministry of Mines and the Mining Association to scale up its impact.

Africa’s mineral wealth is vital for the global economy and can transform the continent’s economy. Africa has most of the world’s chromium and platinum, besides gold. “Every one of us needs to contribute to telling the story that makes our products and Africa look good. That is the only way that Africa can play on the table,” said Adebola Williams, CEO of Red Media, Ubuntu tribe’s media partner. Mamadou agrees. “For us, it is about restoring African pride and wealth by monetizing our resources and empowering our people,” he said. The GIFT product launch attracted many stakeholders from the tech and investment fields. One of the attendees, David Nwaekwu, a software engineer and student at the University of Lagos, was quite optimistic about the token. “I was ready to buy it yesterday,” he said.

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