– Olamide Agunkejoye –
“The age of bitcoin is upon us, as Africa’s most populated black nation traded $35 million worth of bitcoin peer to peer in June 2021”
This and many others like this have become everyday headlines, as it is becoming more evident that African nations and their younger generation aren’t taking a passive stance on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Africa’s untapped economic potential is no secret. The continent’s population has soared past more than 1.3 billion, which accounts for roughly 17% of the world’s population and is mostly comprised of young people, with two-thirds of the population below the age of 24. Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, & Zimbabwe take the lead in the African Blockchain adoption.
As reported by un.org, Africa could be the next frontier for cryptocurrency, despite battling inflation and unfriendly economic situations, the continent seems to have found an escape route in crypto-currency and blockchain technology generally. For example, Nigeria is now the No. 2 bitcoin market on this fast-growing global marketplace says QuartzAfrica.
The potential for blockchain in Africa
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was in mainstream headlines following an extended visit to Africa, after which, he announced that he would be returning for three to six months in mid-2020. The excitement stirred by his statement centred on his ongoing work with his payments company Square and its relatively new venture oriented on Bitcoin — Square Crypto.
On a philosophical level, blockchain technology has at its core, principles of decentralisation, as well as transparency, and anonymity. It is the principles of transparency and anonymity that have the most application in Africa, especially in the following areas:
- Financial System: Blockchain technology is primarily characterized by a lack of need for intermediaries. Making it ultimately impossible for exploitation of in-between loopholes, and enforcing financial transparency and by extension – accountability. This solves a good percentage of the continent’s problems which stem from corruption and mismanagement in leadership and government that comes down to a system that is easily corruptible and monopolised.
- Electoral System: Elections in Africa are still done with paper, pen and an election box, the system is not only inefficient but also highly susceptible to corruption. Blockchain technology can improve the electoral process and make it more efficient, and less prone to corruption.
- Energy and Power: Andy Li, CEO and Founder of Eloncity, a company that is looking to both greener electricity in Africa, but also decentralised electricity which is controlled by communities, explains how this solution works better than the current set up on the continent: “I am perhaps a bit biased, but I would say energy would be a good start for trying out blockchain in Africa. The infrastructure is missing and there is not much modernised productivity, but many cities in certain countries in Africa have limited energy, preventing them to innovate and grow. Therefore, energy as a shared economy seems to be a good start.”
The biggest companies and organisations pushing blockchain throughout the African continent
N/B: Some of these companies are not African owned
Binance, one of the top crypto exchanges, has established itself firmly in the African market making it easy for crypto traders to sell and buy cryptocurrencies with ease. Binance is also known for its many efforts to drive adoption, especially in Africa. According to them – A huge part of Binance Africa’s 2021 goals is to spread crypto education and adoption across Africa. This journey started in 2020 where they successfully educated over 70,000 Africans about crypto fundamentals, practical tutorials on how to set up an account – and buy & sell crypto, technical analysis and crypto trading.
Yele Bademosi launched Bundle Africa in April 2020 with the idea of creating a cryptocurrency and cash exchange platform that will be socially attractive and friendly.
Bundle Africa app allows crypto sending, requesting, and receiving of cash or crypto using an app in the form of social media. It was created that way for the native African user in mind so as to make them feel cryptocurrency exchange like everyday digital transactions.
A Nigerian P2P escrow-based bitcoin trading app, Founded by Disu Hakeem. On Koinwa, users can exchange bitcoin for local currency and vice versa.
Koinwa makes it easy for individuals to control bitcoin price by becoming vendors while controlling their own finances after going through verification/KYC. They also serve as an escrow, protecting both vendor and trader during trades.
Paxful is a top peer-to-peer cryptocurrency marketplace where buyers and sellers are connected for business. Having over 300 payment methods available on Paxful makes it incredibly easy to find suitable offers.
Africa Blockchain Alliance
An organisation that provides a platform for blockchain experts, African organisations – both in the public and private sector – and other stakeholders to learn from each other and explore various blockchain use cases with the African context and market in mind.
Bitland is a Ghana-based blockchain startup that is utilizing blockchain technology to provide land registry services. The company aims to provide the basic services and infrastructure needed to give locals and organisations access to survey lands and register properties as well as assets through the Bitshares blockchain.
BitPesa: A Kenyan company founded in 2013, permits virtual remittances transfers to and from people’ mobile wallets, where cryptocurrency is held, to both African and international destinations
A peer to peer bitcoin marketplace based in Helsinki, Finland. Its service facilitates over-the-counter trading of local currency for bitcoins. Users post advertisements on the website, where they state exchange rates and payment methods for buying or selling bitcoins.
Others include; cryptocurrency-based remittance startups, which are springing up across the continent and globe. Abra, which operates in Malawi and Morocco, GeoPay in South Africa, BitMari in Zimbabwe, and London-based Kobocoin, founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Felix Onyemechi Ugoji, are among these businesses. The Plaas App is a mobile app that allows farmers to keep track of their stock on the blockchain.