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The real decentralization of Cabo Verde

· Social Impact Invest

During my adventure in South America of a few years ago I had an idea. I was reading the Social Entrepreneur for the first time, and was impressed by the sentence: “Apply business principles to social problems.” Most things that were shared in the book had a strong link to the Sonvela Arte project, and the mistakes I'd made during that time.

Although I was starting to understand what social entrepreneurship could do for my future plans, I was also interested in finding a solution to political issues in our country. I had an idea about a 'non-political political organisation', an independent group of activists that could challenge but also work together with (local) politicians to help them better understand the problems people face.

A few months after getting back from my adventure I reached out to a few activist friends, and told them about the idea. I quickly abondonded the idea for two reasons: I wasn't sure this was the way to make an impact and if it would solve certain problems. Reason number two was the political activist group Sokols 2017.

I've been following the 'citizens group' of Sokols for a few years now, and it's been one of the most interesting (political) developments in recent history in our country. It is truly a fantastic initiative, which has been able to change the political landscape in our country in just a few years. The group has organized a few very successful demonstrations, and has also had meetings with political parties.

The genius behind the success of Sokols, and the reason why politicians feel the need to meet with them, is the huge number of people (especially on the island of São Vicente) who support them. If the people behind Sokols would have political ambitions they could have a chance to get elected for City Hall in Mindelo. Politicians know this, and also know that the people behind Sokols don't have any plans to enter Camara Municipal.

The group has a lot of support on the island of São Vicente because of their mission to decentralize politics in Cabo Verde. Their vision is one of a decentralized country, with completely autonomous islands. They feel that too much attention goes to the city of Praia, and that investments and development are way too concentrated in that small part of our country.

Around half of Cabo Verdeans live on the island of Santiago and nearly 30% of them in Praia, the capital. It makes sense that both the island and city play an important role when it comes to decision making and policy. People who don't understand Sokols' mission think that the group's focus on Praia has to do with the rivalry between Cabo Verde's two largest cities. Others, also caught in traditional thinking, believe the group is an ally of PAICV and exists to destabilize MPD's work.

Sokols has been right all along. Cabo Verde (just like the rest of the world) needs fully decentralized and distributed systems to replace extisting ones. Blockchain technology could be the answer to a few critical issues our country is facing today. Where the decentralization Sokols had in mind would again put trust in the hands of a few, the technology the smartest people in the world are working on today is trustless and permissionless. It will take transparency to a level never seen before.

One of the most exciting things I've seen happen in the blockchain industry is the total decentralization of a company called Shapeshift. Its founder Erik Voorhees announced that the company would be transitioning into a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization). The founder would not go on building a centralized company and doing everything that comes along with that, while living a decentralized philosophy.

On Twitter Voorhees explained: “DAOs are dynamic, non-jurisdictional and they are shockingly powerful. They have no center. They rely on no bank account. They demonstrate anti-fragile, emergent order. Starting today, we begin dissolving our corporate structure toward zero, and re-organizing around a borderless, decentralized community governed by the holders of the FOX token.”

“We continue transforming into a decentralized autonomous organization, governed marginally at first, and then completely, by FOX holders. A DAO treasury of roughly ¼ of the FOX supply has been placed in the hands of these holders. After this transformation, there is no corp. No CEO. No board. No shareholders. No employees. No banks. No office.”

The state of Wyoming has been very forward-thinking when it comes to many blockchain related developments. The state has modern banking regulations which allow companies to operate more freely than they can elsewhere. State Senator Cynthia Lumens is a politician who owns BTC herself. Wyoming recently presented it's first DAO law.

Here's what CoinDesk wrote about it: “Now, the Wyoming DAO Law formalizes protection for DAO developers by prohibiting lawsuits against DAOs as general partnerships as well as enforcing the rights of DAOs as legal persons in state court, thereby protecting the developers individually. No longer do developers have to grabble with the uncertainty of whether they could be held personally liable simply by creating a DAO. Wyoming provides DAO members with the same limitations on individual liability afforded to members of limited liability companies (LLCs).”

The fast rise of DAOs within the blockchain world is supported by companies such as Tally. Tally’s platform offers DAOs voting structure and analytics, member transparency and governance tools. The software is already used by protocols including Gitcoin, FEI and Ampleforth as the primary DAO interface.

“We believe that DAOs have the potential to be more scalable and more equitable than corporations,” Aleks Larsen, partner at Blockchain Capital, said in a press statement. “The Tally team has helped the oldest and largest DAOs solve critical governance and operational problems and is the partner of choice for new DAOs.”

Shapeshift's recent inaugural community governance call on Discord was a huge moment. Instead of a closed company board meeting with 6-12 people, all tokens holders could engage in a discussion to speak about proposals that can create a stronger community. Token holders are then invited to vote on which proposals they would like to move forward with.

It is still early when it comes to these DAOs, so we will have to see how things evolve. But I can't stop imagining how this can introduce a completely new governance system within (local) politics. I don't know if DAOs will run politics in the future, or that we see a mix of new possibilities and older traditional ways but we'll definitely be able to finally take democracy to a whole other level.

High above the city of Mindelo, there is a big sign you can see that calls for Autonomia! Blockchain technology has the power to transform practically everything we know, including politics. We'll be able to move towards an interactive system, and leave the days behind us where the few make the decisions for the many. The incentives, probably the most important current failure, will be aligned with the outcomes created within this new form of governance.

Incentives shape everything around us. When we finally ty outcomes in politics to rewards, we can also attract the right people to certain positions. Changes are already taking place in various parts of the world when it comes to city governance. The recent work of Miami Mayor Suarez has lead to people calling him the 'CEO of the city'. Cities should definitely adopt a new model in which they are partially led like a business. In a world with competing cities those who are able to become the best service providers will flourish.

Miami's 'partnership' with CityCoins has brought in millions of dollars in a short time. Investors are betting on the vision of the 'CEO' in the way they do with a public company. Suarez has been getting results by trying a new yet totally logical approach to politics. He seems to understand his role unlike any other politician, and he's ahead of all the developments we can expect to unfold in the coming years.

The future of city (and island/region) governance will be built on transperancy and efficieny, with incentives and outcomes fully aligned for those involved. Cities that are able to adapt to this new reality fast, will have the opportunity to reinvent themselves and build for the coming decades. I wonder how long it will be before we see the world's first city DAO.

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