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How Bitcoin Saved Me In Cash Strapped Zimbabwe

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM
Frisco d'Anconia
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:56 PM

Africa’s lack of financial inclusion is an immense nagging headache. Throughout the continent, there are nearly 80% of the adult population who are unbanked.

Aside, inflation continues to cripple businesses and dwindle wealth creation. The phenomenon keeps wiping the middle class pushing many to the economic fringes.

But thanks to Satoshi Nakamoto and the many others who followed his footsteps, the advent of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies offer unprecedented opportunities to Africans to participate in the global economy. It is also a tremendous chance to engage in cross-border trade without the costly involvement of third parties.

Across Africa With Bitcoin

As an African Fintech journalist, I’m embarking on a journey to six Southern African countries, to be precise Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe to promote Bitcoin/Blockchain and write about its communities. I will highlight how Cryptocurrencies are impacting on the lives of individuals and communities.

Throughout my journey, the Crypto community can identify business and investment possibilities. Engaging business people on how to leverage bitcoin and the Blockchain to provide goods and services is a priority throughout the routes.

As a matter of fact, Meet-Ups have been lined up in the national capitals and the second largest cities of all the nations involved to educate the populace. I will walk the streets of these African cities, towns, villages, and hamlets, testing the knowledge of the people about Bitcoin and altcoins.

Merchant acceptance of Bitcoin is very crucial in pushing adoption, and in all these countries it is only South Africa where businesses accepting Bitcoin is visible. Of course, I will be courting merchants to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.

On Sunday afternoon, I left my native Ghana to Harare in Zimbabwe, where the journey begins, via Kigali, Rwanda. The flight was a pleasant one, and I’m strongly convinced the Rwandans are planning and working hard to take over the palpably mediocre African aviation market.

Beginning Of My Woes

Checking my emails at the Great Seasons Hotel in the city of Kigali in an overnight transit stay on Sunday night, I realized my Airbnb bookings for Harare has been canceled,  the processing of my debit card did not go through. In fact, I had little cash and a couple of debit cards on me, and my intention is to use Bitcoin for all my expenses where possible.

I started panicking, Zimbabwe is cash strapped and this journey is being done on a shoestring budget. My crypto friends in Zimbabwe have assured me I can always redeem Bitcoin for cash from Bitfinance, the Southern African countries only Bitcoin Exchange, and Blockchain Infrastructure company. Something needed to be down immediately before embarkation on Monday morning to Harare.

A good friend in Colorado who was online at that time decided to send me funds to be picked in Harare via Western union. I was a bit relieved and poised to continue the journey again.

However, when I finally arrived in Harare, it was a public holiday and all the banks were closed in toto. I can’t access the funds sent through western union. None of the ATMs will accept the couple of debit cards I have either.

Ending Well With Bitcoin

From all indications, I was stranded with only $40 in my pocket and three debit cards no bank around the airport will accept. It then dawned on me I have loaded some Bitcoin on my CryptoPay Virtual Visa Card a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use that to book accommodation on Airbnb. Franky speaking barely an hour later, this was through and my host a kind-hearted man has offered to pick me from the airport to a posh Harare residential home was on his way.

After a hot shower at my lodgings, I called my friend the ingenious Tawanda Kembo of Bitfinance, whom I have nicknamed Zimbabwe’s King of Bitcoin from my host family phone. He sent me cash via mobile money after sending him Bitcoin.

Featured image of Harare from Shutterstock.