There is a lot of optimism for crypto and blockchain adoption in Africa.
Blockchain Africa was held as a virtual event recently for the first time ever, due to the ongoing global pandemic, and one of the key takeaways from the event was the general optimism around bitcoin and blockchain’s prospects in Africa. The event attracted over 4,000 online attendees, with several well-known industry leaders, commentators and participants addressing these attendees online.
The keynote address was delivered by Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson on the potential of Africa to be a hotbed for crypto and blockchain adoption and development. His belief is that Africa will emerge as one of the drivers of innovation and progress in this space, with Cardano already having invested in various African countries. He also stated that Africa is in a similar position to where China was 30 years ago, with the continent being poised to emerge as a global powerhouse economically, and blockchain and crypto will play a huge role in this development. For example, according to him, the first country to hold free, fair and credible elections online via blockchain systems is likely to be an African nation, with that bringing a whole host of benefits and development to those countries. Cardano already has a funding program, named Catalyst, in place, where there is over $250 million in grants in place for individuals and businesses to build infrastructure, services, products and applications in the Cardano ecosystem.
It has been quite interesting to see the rise of blockchain and crypto technology all over the world, with businesses across a wide variety of sectors trying to adopt these technologies into their operations. The most successful in this have been online businesses, with the online gambling sector perhaps leading the way here. There are various online gambling operators which offer users the option of placing bets through cryptocurrencies, while blockchain is used to support the games and services on these sites, making them safer and more reliable than traditional online gambling sites. Winz casino is one example of such a website, with various online games that can be played through crypto tokens. These sites have transformed the online gambling sector, with many more operators following suit, which shows the potential that crypto and blockchain have for changing the way businesses operate at a global level.
Of course, in terms of Africa, one of the biggest challenges is the education of people with regard to how to safely purchase and use various cryptocurrencies. While several African countries have extremely high adoption rates for crypto, there remain millions of people who do not know how to use their local currencies to buy crypto, which can create an environment where trust is low, and therefore the potential for fraud increases. Another issue is the lack of regulation, which adds to this trust deficit, since there is not a lot of protection for crypto users if things go wrong for some reason. Banks are being forced to act as regulators at the moment, but central banks and governments will need to step up soon if crypto is to become a driver for growth in Africa.
However, too much regulation can also be a problem, with Nigeria serving as a big example of this, where the central bank effectively banned local banks from offering services to individuals or businesses that are involved in crypto transactions. This sort of blanket ban will only serve to push transactions underground, as the demand for crypto is not going anywhere, while also excluding people from the benefits of crypto, including price rallies that can significantly increase the value of their investments. Africa is a very promising market for crypto, but it will require a careful and well-thought approach from all stakeholders if crypto is to become a success on the continent.