Cryptocurrencies are gradually being discovered in Africa. In countries like South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria, there is a semblance of digital currencies, primarily bitcoin, taking roots.
These countries have got Exchanges and start-ups in the crypto space, and their businesses are recognizing the significance of Cryptocurrencies in fostering cross-border trade and payment. As a matter of reality, there are more than 1000 merchants accepting Bitcoin in South Africa.
Moreover, the infrastructure for the takeoff of digital tokens is solid. Telecommunication liberalisation across the continent has enabled internet accessibility remarkably.
Figures from GSMA indicates that half of the population in Africa subscribed to mobile telephony. Also, the statistics intimate that for the past two years smartphone usage in the continent has doubled to reach 226 million.
CCN spoke to Adewale Bankole, President of the Bastiat Society and Humaniq Ambassador of Nigeria about the future of Cryptocurrencies in Africa.
CCN: Do you think Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have anything to offer Africa?
Adewale Bankole: Yes, of course! Africa is emerging market with lots of opportunities. And people have been failed over time by fiat money that doesn’t hold value. It is arduous for our local business people because the local currency doesn’t hold value and most of the time it has to be changed to dollars in other to access international market for raw materials and machinery, but with cryptocurrencies holding same value globally…. it will be extremely seamless to transact business by Africans globally. This will absolutely create a circle of human and economic development in Africa in the long run.
CCN: So it’s Africa that has a lot to offer Bitcoin and other cryptos and not the other way round?
AB: Yes, the market is here for cryptocurrencies in Africa. Africa has lots to offer Bitcoin and others crypto, simply because Africa needs an alternative to the weak and not – always – available fiat money. All products of cryptocurrencies will be well embraced if promoted in Africa. As we speak the vacuum for alternative means of payment is obvious in Africa at the moment.
CCN: And do you believe Africans would embrace Bitcoin if the necessary awareness is created?
AB: Absolutely, once they see it works. Africans really want something that works with value. The missing linking here is the awareness about the technology.
CCN: Do you think the necessary infrastructure is there to make it thrive?
AB: Infrastructure is key, however, average Africans have smartphones these days, which means Bitcoin and other digital currencies transactions can be done. Moreso, with the advent of Fintech App, Africa is most fertile land for cryptocurrencies.
CCN: From your perspective, do you see any challenges?
AB: Sure, there would be challenges from State and/or Central Bank. Definitely, they will feel threatened that crypto will send them out of the money market monopolisation. But with the persistent success of crypto transactions in Africa – solving monetary problems and raising human development – crypto will surely take over.
CCN: Penetration/adoption is painfully slow, but what is the way forward?
AB: At this point, I think a wise government in Africa that cares about FDI and overall economic growth should just adopt crypto and let it work in their respective countries.
I believe adoption will rise steadily once the crypto companies spend more in sensitising Africa business people and Africans in general. It is obvious that people want an alternative to fiat money. People are tired of working hard for money and working harder to transact with it which is the current situation with fiat money in Africa. This is what I see on daily basis.
CCN: What about civil society? Do they have a role here?
AB: Yes, civil society has a special role to play especially does that promote businesses. Civil society works to promote human development, and I think they should be a major partner in this crypto drive in Africa. Since most civil society organisations already have an area of interest and keen followers.
CCN: Finally, why will you choose Crypto over fiat?
AB: That’s obvious… store of value, easy to transact with, accepted globally, appreciating progressively.
CCN: Thank you.
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