Africa’s financial markets throughout time has been plagued by corruption, mismanagement and timid business practices.
Arguably, Blockchain technology may be the solution to help African nations trade their resources seamlessly and corruption-free. It may be the case that the continent as a whole will deploy, in the next few years, systems created and powered through Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology — essentially systems that introduce risk free analysis, pricing, selling and accountability. As we have started to gather, inherent in Blockchain, the democratisation of asset production is under way in most parts of the world. Although the growth has exploded, one can argue we are still in the beginning stages. Africa can be the next booming continent with rich resources, however should these resources be useful, governments and Think tanks will need to allow an advanced technology that will continue to catapult this continent to great heights.
Birth of Blockchain in Africa
The Blockchain ecosystem in Africa has started to gain momentum and is starting to foster strength to make a huge difference in African society and the economy. Although, the continent is not pictured or praised on media with new technologies, the land is adjacent to many cryptocurrency communities and local entrepreneurs are using these grounds to rid social, economic and political instability.
Many projects have been launched in Africa. In Nigeria, Lagos, the first annual Nigerian Blockchain Alliance Conference was held in November 2017. Furthermore, start-ups such as SureRemit continue to flourish, leading the largest African ICO ever — a staggering $8 million for its remittance platform.
The Blockchain Academy in Cape Town, South Africa allows local start-ups and entrepreneurs to acquire knowledge in terms of Cryptocurrencies and the intricacies of Blockchain technology. Additionally, there are training workshops at their AlphaCode Club in Johannesburg.
The Blockchain Academy is working in tandem with fintech companies as well as traditional banking providers such as Barclays Africa, Standard Bank and the Central Swaziland Bank. The potential for Blockchain start-ups in South Africa is still large as empirically seen through the new FinTech initiative with the Cryptocurrency start-up ConsenSys which offers an enterprise Blockchain Solution called, Quorum.
Another interesting project is BitHub Africa, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This is a Blockchain advisory body for local start-ups. One of the many features of the project is to provide consultancy services for many different organisations who are interested in using Blockchain technology in Africa together with the Mediterranean areas. The project also urges local regulations to adopt Blockchain in terms of national policy in the country, bolstering a favourable outcome for Initial Coin Offerings and Cryptocurrencies.
Why is Blockchain gaining momentum?
Well, the answer is two-fold. One is simply because Blockchain is revolutionary and awesome, the other is due to the fact that Blockchain tackles real problems — socially, economically and politically.
One of the main reasons this is possible is inherently in Blockchain’s nature: Decentralised and transparent.
Essentially, it has the capability to combat many political electoral problems. An example of this is when Sierra Leone, using a Swiss company called Agora used the Blockchain to foster a fair election. The representatives at each polling station simply counted the votes which were then inputted into the Blockchain. Although, this was most definitely amazing in respect to Blockchain’s uptake, this project was only used in the western part of the country.
Another useful idea is the use of Cryptocurrencies where economies are rife in inflation and added to this, there are many restrictions on sending cash across borders, access to banking institutions is low and inflation is extremely high. In Zimbabwe, we can see this notion playing out where over the years, where locals have rushed to purchase Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, as they are in desperate need to protect their assets and savings.
In saying this, inflation and corruption leads to instability and lack of trust in governments and public institutions. Yet, if one looks at the doubling of smartphone ownership in many parts of Africa, users are able to make use of cryptocurrency wallets to hold their Cryptocurrency funds to keep them locked and loaded. All-in-all, the rise of Blockchain in Africa is bound to speed up, as the lack of bureaucratic institutions will utilise seamless technology such as Blockchain technology.
Since some governments are regulating the ownership of Cryptocurrency, for example in Egypt, where the Central Bank of Egypt does not allow the use of digital currency. A new group of miners has emerged where locals trade cryptocurrencies behind closed doors since they are worried of being prosecuted. Therefore, in large parts of the main city Cairo, many bitcoin mining farms have emerged as locals exchange information via social messaging applications.
Many experts argue that Blockchain technology could, in fact, democratise many societies throughout the world. However, one must acknowledge that the innovative government bodies need to put more time and effort into the opportunities of Blockchain technology. Due to the limited policy surrounding Cryptocurrencies, unlike the regulatory reviews the in U.S. and elsewhere, Africa could be the next big continent to push forward with the use of Blockchain. We may start to see the rise of Decentralised Applications which solve political, economic and social problems — what Blockchain does best.